OAN’s Brooke Mallory
3:11 PM – Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Governor Ron DeSantis invited Vice President Kamala Harris to Florida on Monday to discuss the state’s new Black history curriculum after Harris criticized the new standards for implying that enslaved people profited from skills learned through forced labor.
“In Florida, we are unafraid to have an open and honest dialogue about the issues. And you clearly have no trouble ducking down to Florida on short notice,” DeSantis wrote, referencing Harris’s trip.
“So given your grave concern (which, I must assume, is sincere) about what you think our standards say, I am officially inviting you back down to Florida to discuss our African American History standards. We will be happy to host you in Tallahassee,” he continued.
The vice president reportedly traveled to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday to speak at the 20th Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Quadrennial Convention.
“And I will tell you, there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery,” Harris said in response.
DeSantis’ letter comes after the vice president declared earlier this month in Jacksonville that Florida officials “want to replace history with lies,” just days after the state’s Board of Education outlined its new approach to Black history in a 216-page document.
Last week, Harris claimed that “extremist” leaders were attempting to “push propaganda to our children.”
Many people had assumed that the Democrat vice president was referring to DeSantis in her assertion.
DeSantis, who barred the teaching of an advanced credit African American studies course to high school students in his state earlier this year, accused the Biden administration of insulting Florida and misleading Americans about its “nation-leading standalone” requirements on the topic.
“One would think the White House would applaud such boldness in teaching the unique and important story of African American History,” DeSantis wrote. “But you have instead attempted to score cheap political points and label Florida parents ‘extremists.’ It’s past time to set the record straight.”
The Florida governor, who is still trailing behind former President Donald Trump in the GOP primary voter polls, said he would meet with William Allen, a member of Florida’s African American History Standards Workgroup, who defended the standards as “rigorous and comprehensive.”
DeSantis has frequently justified the requirements, saying that slaves “parlayed” forced labor skills “into doing things later in life.”
Some Black members of Congress have criticized the new standards and DeSantis’s defense of them, including Rep. John James of Michigan, who tweeted his displeasure, saying that “nothing” about slavery was a “net benefit” to his ancestors.
Representative Byron Donalds of Florida also called on the state Education Department to “correct” its new standards. Both James and Donalds are backing Trump in the 2024 primary.
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