Tallahassee leaders demand state reverse AP African American History ban

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 4:25 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 10:20 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - On Monday, local political leaders and activists gathered at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to call on Governor Ron DeSantis to reverse the rejection of AP African American studies classes being taught in Florida schools.

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said the class was banned because it violates state law.

“We must raise our collective and prophetic voices against any attempts to abolish, abort and abandon black studies,” said The Rev. RB Holmes Jr., pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. “We must never forget that.”

Friday, the Florida Department of Education said parts of the curriculum included what they considered the “woke indoctrination of students” and violated state law on how race can be taught in the classroom.

Pointing specifically to subjects like black queer studies, the reparations movement, and intersectionality.

Holmes said the group will “organize a campaign” to have “positive conversations on the quality of teaching and learning about all people’s history.”

The group said there will be a rally held on Feb. 16 of civil rights leaders and other faith leaders in response to the governor’s move “to tell our story, our heritage and our hope.”

Dr. Larry Rivers, a history professor at Florida A&M University, said the AP African American Studies curriculum “is very educational and very valuable” despite the state claiming it lacks educational value.

“The time is always right to do what is right,” Rivers said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dr. Reginald Ellis, interim dean of the school of graduate studies and research at Florida A&M University, said the history and cultural information makes African American studies important “not only to the people of African Diaspora but to people across the works.”

“That’s why it took so long for these individual scholars to write this curriculum,” Ellis said. “We believe it will provide a great benefit to the state as it has already provided a great benefit to individuals throughout the nation.”

The Rev. Dr. Joseph Wright said they’d like the governor to consider holding a statewide conference on race and said they’d like to help him better understand the issues.

“If not, we’re going to fight this issue,” Wright said.

DeSantis’ office pushed back on calls to reverse their decision and said the course of study is a ”vehicle for a political agenda.”

A rally denouncing DeSantis’ decision is scheduled for Feb. 16.