Vice President Harris responded to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ invitation to discuss the new standards for African American history education in his state.
Harris visited the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando amid an ongoing dispute with DeSantis, following the promulgation of the new standards by the Florida Board of Education. During a separate trip to Florida last month, Harris had criticized the state for “spreading propaganda” to children through those standards.
At the Quadrennial Convention of the Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Harris responded to DeSantis’ offer.
“Right here in Florida, they plan to teach students that enslaved people benefited from slavery. They are insulting us in an attempt to dazzle us, in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates, and now they are trying to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that recently emerged from a politically motivated roundtable,” Harris said.
“Well, I’m here in Florida and I will tell you that there is no round table, no conference, no invitation that we accept to discuss one undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities about slavery,” he added.
DeSantis, who is running for the GOP nomination for president, invited Harris in a letter Monday in Tallahassee to discuss the new standards.
“In Florida we are not afraid to have an open and honest dialogue about the issues,” DeSantis wrote in the letter to Harris. “And you clearly have no problem going to Florida on short notice. So given your great concern (which, I must assume, is genuine) about what you think our standards say, I’m officially inviting you back to Florida to talk about our African American history standards.”
Florida’s governor previously dismissed Harris’ criticism of the new teaching standards, accusing her of spreading a “false narrative” about the curriculum.
Harris had made statements in June in Jacksonville stating, “Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided that high school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery. They are insulting us in an attempt to ignite We’re gassed, and we won’t stand it.”
The new curriculum says, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills that, in some cases, could be applied to their personal benefit.”
CNN analyst Scott Jennings blasted Harris’ distorted reading of Florida’s teaching standards.
“Which is surprising to me [is] that little Kamala Harris apparently has to do so she can read something on Twitter one day and be on a plane the next day making something literally out of nothing,” he said. “This is a totally made up deal. I looked at the standards, I even looked at an analysis of the standards, in every instance where the word slavery or slave was used, I even read the statement of the African American scholars who wrote the standards, no [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis, but the scholars.”
“Everybody involved in this is saying it’s a completely made-up issue, and yet look how quickly Kamala Harris jumped on it. So the fact that this is her greatest moment, a made-up issue, is pretty ridiculous Jennings continued.
As Governor Ron DeSantis’ press secretary Jeremy Redfern noted, Dr. William B. Allen, one of the members of Florida’s African American History Standards Task Force, appeared on ABC News and blasted the statements by Harris as “categorically false”. His fuller comments, selectively edited for air by ABC News, show Harris invented the controversy.
Yesterday, @abcnews aired a very small section of their interview with a member of the Florida African American History Standards Task Force, Dr. William B. Allen.
Here’s more from the interview, where Dr. Allen refutes @VP’s narrative and calls her criticism “categorically false”.🧵 pic.twitter.com/hPFbKNZPs1
— Jeremy Redfern (@JeremyRedfernFL) July 23, 2023
“The only criticism I’ve found so far is one that was articulated by the vice president and that was a mistake, as I said in my response to the vice president, it was categorically false,” Dr. Allen said. “It was never said that slavery was beneficial to Africans. What was said, and anyone who reads it will see clearly, is the case that Africans proved resourceful, hardy and adaptable, and were able to develop skills and aptitudes, which served to their benefit, both while they were enslaved and after enslavement”.
Kamala Harris comes from a privileged upper class family in San Francisco and is a descendant of a Jamaican slave owner.
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OPINION: This article contains comments that reflect the opinion of the author.