‘Hope you’re feeling up to it:’ Gov. DeSantis invites VP Harris to discuss black history standards
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a letter to Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday, inviting her to discuss her criticisms of the state’s new African American History education standards.
Her trip came two days after the Florida Board of Education approved a revised African American History curriculum to satisfy legislation signed by DeSantis. The new standards include instruction that enslaved people were able to use skills they learned for personal benefit.
“How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” Harris asked during her trip to Jacksonville.
Critics attacked the standards on that basis, and others said the coursework doesn’t go far enough in condemning historical figures who advocated for slavery.
However, state leaders pushed back, pointing out that the standards in Florida’s curriculum matched those of the College Board’s, which reads:
In addition to agricultural work, enslaved people learned specialized trades and worked as painters, carpenters, tailors, musicians, and healers in the North and South. Once free, American (sic) Americans used these skills to provide for themselves and others.
College Board AP African American Studies framework
The standards require that Florida schools teach about important historical black figures like inventor Lonnie Johnson and George Washington Carver. They also mandate that history classes discuss “the contributions of Africans to society, science, poetry, politics, oratory, literature, music, dance, Christianity and exploration in the United States from 1776-1865.”
“Over the past several weeks, the Biden Administration has repeatedly disparaged our state and misinformed Americans about our education system,” DeSantis wrote on Monday. “Our state pushed forward nation-leading standalone African American History standards — one of the only states in the nation to require this level of learning about such an important subject.”
DeSantis’ letter invited Harris to Tallahassee to speak with Dr. William Allen, a former member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who worked on Florida’s African American History curriculum.
The letter also states that Harris is welcome to bring an expert who shares her own viewpoints to talk about the curriculum.
“I am prepared to meet as early as Wednesday of this week, but of course want to be deferential to your busy schedule should you already have a trip to the southern border planned for that day,” the letter reads. “Please let me know as soon as possible. What an example we could set for the nation — a serious conversation on the subject of an important issue! I hope you’re feeling up to it.”
DeSantis’ letter to Harris can be read in full below: