‘America’s full and true history’: Why V.P. Kamala Harris is coming to Jacksonville Friday

Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to visit Jacksonville on Friday with a message about the ongoing controversy over teaching African American history in Florida. Here’s what we know.

When and where will Harris appear?

Harris is expected to arrive at Jacksonville International Airport around 2:20 p.m. and speak at the Ritz Theatre and Museum in downtown’s LaVilla area this afternoon. The talk is expected to be livestreamed on WhiteHouse.gov/live.

What is she expected to discuss?

Press Secretary Kirsten Allen said on Twitter the vice president will “deliver remarks about the ongoing fight to protect fundamental freedoms, specifically, the freedom to learn and teach America’s full and true history.”

“We’re fighting back against attempts to gaslight us, cover up our history, and rewrite the horrors of slavery,” Harris said in a Tweet Thursday night.

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Why is that a hot topic now?

Organizations including the NAACP and the Florida Education Association have been criticizing the Florida Board of Education’s decision Wednesday to approve a new curriculum for African American history that critics say omits key historical facts. Opponents have argued the curriculum doesn’t describe Florida’s role in slavery and leaves out important information about the oppression of African Americans.

The decision came after months of criticism for the board’s decision to remove an Advanced Placement African American Studies class from Florida schools. The College Board altered the course, but Florida has still not yet approved it for the classroom.

Has she talked about this before now?

Harris tweeted Thursday that “extremists are pushing forward revisionist history,” echoing points she raised earlier during a speech in Indianapolis to 7,000 members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. During that speech, the vice president told the crowd: “Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us and we will not stand for it.”

Has she visited Jacksonville before?

Vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaks during a drive-in rally Monday, October 19, 2020 at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida.

Harris has been to Jacksonville at least twice before. In October 2020, when she was still just a candidate, she revved up Democrats at a rain-drenched drive-in rally at the University of North Florida. She returned as vice president in March 2021 to tour a COVID-19 vaccination site and promote the benefits of a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package that President Joe Biden’s administration shepherded into law under the slogan “Help is Here.”

Vice President Kamala Harris held a listening visit in Jacksonville in  March 2021, talking with local and state leaders at the nonprofit Feeding Northeast Florida.

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