The governor has twisted a course designed to enrich the understanding of American history into “a tool for propaganda and political ambitions,” says Powell.
This time, Gov. Ron DeSantis could be breaking a long-standing Florida law.
After the Republican senator’s administration rejected a College Board request to approve an Advanced Placement African American Studies course in the state that would explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans, Bobby Powell, the Democratic senator from Palm Beach County, claimed that the ban is not only discriminatory against African Americans, “but flies in the face of long-standing Florida law.”
The course is part of a broader AP program in US high schools, which gives students the chance to take college-level courses before graduation.
“Almost 30 years ago, Florida lawmakers passed a law that requires public school students to be taught the history of African Americans, including slavery, abolition, and the contributions of Blacks to society,” asserted Powell, pointing out that the current administration’s African American history ban comes after DeSantis’ controversial Stop W.O.K.E. Act (HB 7), which rejects concepts like white privilege or historical oppression of Blacks, even though the governor failed to prove critical race theory is taught in public schools in the state.
A Vibrant Field of Study
In fact, one of the developers of the AP African American studies course previously told Time magazine that the class does not teach critical race theory. “[The course] is a mainstream, rigorously vetted, academic approach to a vibrant field of study,” said Henry-Louis Gates Jr, a leading scholar on African American history in the US.
A Ban that Breaks the Law
The reason for the ban, according to a document the Florida Department of Education sent to The Daily Beast, is that it teaches students about activism, intersectionality and encourages “ending the war on Black trans, queer, gender non-conforming, and intersex people.”
“Banning this advanced placement course that incorporates these very issues not only whitewashes history but tramples a lauded state law that guided our state into the 21st century. It puts our governor’s racial bias on full display,” Powell added.
According to Powell, this is part of DeSantis’ drive to squash basic freedom of thought and speech in Florida. “The Governor has twisted a course designed to enrich our understanding of American history, and celebrate pioneering African American accomplishments, into a tool for propaganda and political ambitions,” Powell contends.
Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-34) also strongly denounced the Republican governor’s decision to ban the program.
“Florida is doing its best to tilt the scales and shut down important, much-needed discussions of race, slavery, stolen lands, and undeniable history that have led to where we are as a society today,” he said in a statement.
DeSantis opted to float the ban nationally, leading many to assume that he will continue to focus on culture war battles ahead of announcing a likely presidential bid.