NAACP leaders call for Florida to change African American Studies standards

NAACP leaders call for changes to Florida's Black History curriculum
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 7:41 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2023 at 8:44 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida Capital Bureau) - When students across Florida return to class this week, they’ll be working with new learning standards. That includes the controversial African American Studies curriculum, which critics claim suggests slavery was not all bad.

About a dozen leaders from the NAACP gathered outside the Florida Department of Education Thursday to send the state a message.

“To call on the Department of Education to be truthful about the history of African people,” NAACP Tallahassee President Mutaqee Akbar said.

The Florida Board of Education approved new African American History standards during its meeting on July 19. Critics claim those standards are watered down and indicate slavery was beneficial to African Americans.

“Enslaved people did not benefit from slavery. The slave masters did,” National Action Network Tallahassee president Rev. R.B. Holmes said.

Akbar said the Department of Education addressing AP Psychology but not African American sends a clear message.

“Compare that to a Black History course that talks about our history, who we are, our children learning about things we went through, the things we survived, and just ignore us I think that’s part of the racism we’ve been dealing with in the system,” Akbar said.

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz was scheduled to talk about the standards during a town hall in Miami Thursday evening, but he backed out Wednesday.

He posted on social media he will be attending schools across the state for the first day of school instead.

During the Board of Education meeting in July, Diaz said the standards teach the good and the bad history.

“As it becomes more age-appropriate, we start to go into the tougher subjects. And when you get into high school, it goes back and examines where slavery starts,” Diaz said.

He said Florida would be a leader with the new standards.

“What we should be striving to do is provide all of our students with all of this information and let them form their own opinion. That is what true learning is,” Diaz said on July 19.

The Florida Department of Education said earlier this year the AP African American Studies class can’t be taught in the state.

The Gray Florida Capital Bureau did ask the Florida Department of Education if there are discussions about any changes to the African American Studies standards. The Department hadn’t responded by the time this article was published.