Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday rebuked the Florida Board of Education’s new standards for how black history will be taught in schools, calling it an effort by extremist leaders to spread propaganda.
Speaking in Jacksonville, Harris said the recently passed curriculum, which suggests some slaves benefited from the skills they acquired during forced labor, was based on a policy that attempts to mislead children.
«They want to replace history with lies,» Harris said. «These so-called extremist leaders should model what we know to be the right and proper approach if we are truly committed to the well-being of our children. Instead, they dare send propaganda to our children. This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that.»
The Florida Board of Education approved new standards Wednesday in a 216 page document detailing how public schools should approach black history, including teaching students that some enslaved people gained useful skills that could be used for «personal gain.»
«How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities there was any benefit in being subjected to this level of dehumanization?» Harris said.
Referring to her own education, the vice president said it was the product of a public school system in which teachers provided «the full extent of information» and encouraged students to «then come to their own conclusions and exercise critical thinking in a way that was directly intended to nurture their leadership.»
“It is because of that approach that I stand before you as Vice President of the United States,” she said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who earlier this year blocked an advanced placement African-American studies course from being taught to high school students in his state, criticized Harris’s visit in a statement on Twitter.
«Democrats like Kamala Harris have to lie about Florida’s educational standards to cover their agenda of indoctrinating students and pushing sexual issues on children,» the Republican presidential candidate said. tweeted. «Florida stands in her way and we will continue to expose her agenda and her lies.»
Before delivering her remarks, Harris said she met with local leaders, including Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, two Democrats in the state legislature, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.
In May, the NAACP issued a travel advice for Florida, calling the state «openly hostile toward African-Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people.».»
The group also chided the updated black history curriculum, stressing the importance of students learning «that the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow were a violation of human rights and represent the darkest period in American history.»
William Allen and Frances Presley Rice, who are members of Florida’s Black History Standards Task Force, defended the standards in a statement earlier this week, calling them «rigorous and comprehensive,» and said the heavily criticized update showed «that some slaves developed highly specialized trades from which they benefited.»
Harris urged Americans Friday to face history instead of forgetting it.
“Our history as a nation is born of tragedy and triumph. That is what we are. Part of that is what gives us value,” he said.
“So let’s reject the notion that we would deny all of this in terms of our history. Let’s not be seduced into thinking that we will somehow be better if we forget it. We will be better if we remember.”