Protest Against Florida’s New Black History Standards Persists as School Year Begins

Hundreds protest Gov. DeSantis's rejection of African American history course, Tallahassee, Feb. 15, 2023.

As the school year kicks off, resistance against Florida’s recently introduced Black history standards continues to grow. A month after the Florida Board of Education revealed these standards, which include the assertion that enslaved individuals “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” activists in the state are pushing back.

Activists Stand Firm Against Florida’s Standards

Reports from AP News indicate that teachers, students, and activists recently marched to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools headquarters to protest the new curriculum on August 16th.

Chanting slogans like “What do we want? Truth. When do we want it? Now. What if we don’t get it? Shut it down!” nearly 50 protesters marched over a mile and were met by an additional group of demonstrators upon reaching the school board office.

Melvin Dunn, a Florida International University professor who organized the march, expressed strong opposition, asserting that Governor Ron DeSantis’ new state standards will not be accepted.

“These new state standards that DeSantis has come up with will not be tolerated in our schools. We will not let our children be taught that slaves benefited from their slavery. That’s a lie.”

Tennessee Representative Justin Pearson (D), known for his prior expulsion from the state’s House of Representatives before being reinstated, also addressed the Miami gathering.

“The true history is that Black people have always fought to make America what it ought to be, and it has always resisted what it could be. We’ve always fought for the America that we know is possible. That is not here yet.”

VP Kamala Harris (D) also weighed in on the matter, denouncing the effort as an attempt to “replace history with lies,” labeling it as “propaganda.”

“They dare to push propaganda to our children. This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) added his voice to the conversation, critiquing the new standards and highlighting the harsh realities of slavery. Despite pushback, Arkansas has also entered the debate, deciding not to recognize AP African American History for course credit.

However, some schools in Arkansas, like those in Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Jonesboro, are committed to continuing the course.