Vice President Kamala Harris repeated false claims about Florida’s new black history curriculum after Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis challenged her to a debate Tuesday.
DeSantis invited the vice president to debate him to discuss his state’s curriculum on African American history. She accused the curriculum of teaching students how “enslaved people benefited from slavery” over the curriculum’s instruction on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Harris repeated her claims at a White House event in Florida on Tuesday.
“Right here in Florida, they plan to teach students that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” Harris said. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates. And now, they attempt to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that most recently came in of a politically motivated roundtable. Well I’m here in Florida, and I will tell you there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation, we will accept to debate an undeniable fact. There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”
She seemed to label DeSantis an “extremist so-called leader” who is trying to prevent children from learning history.
“And as I said last week when I was again here in Florida, we will not stop calling out and fighting back against extremist so-called leaders who try to prevent our children from learning our true and full history,” she concluded. (RELATED: DeSantis Accuses Byron Donalds Of ‘Siding With Kamala Harris’ On African American Curriculum)
The curriculum teaches about the “various duties and trades” performed by slaves that were sometimes used to their own personal benefit after the abolition of slavery. The Advanced Placement (AP) African American course in Florida similarly teaches how slaves “learned specialized trades and worked as painters, carpenters, tailors, musicians, and healers” and “used these skills to provide for themselves and others.”
The curriculum also teaches about the “conditions of slavery,” “African Americans who demonstrated heroism and patriotism” and those who made “positive contributions to the state of Florida,” according to a document outlining the curriculum.
Dr. William B. Allen, who laid out the curriculum, called Harris’ initial remarks “categorically false.”
“As I stated in my response to the vice president, it was categorically false. It was never said that slavery was beneficial to Africans. What was said, and anyone who reads this will see this with clarity. It is the case that Africans proved resourceful, resilient, and adaptive and were able to develop skills and aptitudes which served to their benefit, both while enslaved and after enslavement.”
Yesterday, @abcnews aired a very small section of their interview with a member of Florida’s African American History Standards Workgroup, Dr. William B. Allen.
— Jeremy Redfern (@JeremyRedfernFL) July 23, 2023
Republican Florida Rep. Byron Donalds clashed with DeSantis’ presidential campaign staffers over his criticism of the line about slaves developing skills, but told Fox News on Friday that the rest of the curriculum is “robust,” “accurate” and “good.”