Black Congressional Republicans Blast DeSantis, Florida Curriculum on Slavery

July 28, 2023

Two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Byron Donalds, both of whom are Black, blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) over his state’s history curriculum on slavery. 

The clashes came in reaction to DeSantis’ remarks attempting to clarify the Florida Department of Education’s approved new curriculum, which instructs students on how it says Black people benefited from slavery. 

“They’re probably going to show that some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life,” DeSantis said last Friday, defending the Florida curriculum regarding America’s 400-year history of slavery.

Scott, a Senator from South Carolina who, like DeSantis, is running for President in 2024, rebuked the governor’s comments, stating at a town hall in Iowa that slavery had “no silver lining.”

“What slavery was really about [was] separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives,” said Scott. “It was just devastating. So, I would hope that every person in our country—and certainly running for President—would appreciate that.”

Rep. Donalds, a Congress member from DeSantis’ state of Florida, posted on Twitter Wednesday, “The new African-American standards in FL are good,  robust, & accurate. That being said, the attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted. That obviously wasn’t the goal & I have faith that FLDOE will correct this.”

The two Republicans’ rebukes follow that of Democrat Kamala Harris, the United States’ first Black Vice President, who said during a visit to Jacksonville, Florida Sunday, “How is it that anyone could suggest that amidst these atrocities [of slavery], there was any ‘benefit’ to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?”

Florida education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. has pushed back, posting a memo to the state’s school district superindentants that despite “partisan and inaccurate criticism” of the standards, the state would pass the new history standards. He further noted the Florida Education Department’s reliance on Black scholars to put the curriculum together.

DeSantis has chosen to call out Vice President Harris, saying Thursday, “I think part of the reason our country has struggled is because DC Republicans all too often accept false narratives, accept lies that are perpetrated by the left and accept the lie that Kamala Harris has been perpetrating, even when that has been debunked.”

He added, “That’s not the way you do it…the way you lead is to fight back against the lies, is to speak the truth. And so I’m here defending my state of Florida against false accusations and against lies, and we’re going to continue to speak the truth.”

PHOTO: @RonDeSantis

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