Ron DeSantis invites Kamala Harris to Florida to ‘set the record straight’ on new Black history standards
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday invited Vice President Kamala Harris to Florida to discuss the state’s new Black history curriculum after Harris delivered remarks there blasting the new standards for suggesting enslaved people benefited from skills used in forced labor.
“In Florida we are unafraid to have an open and honest dialogue about the issues. And you clearly have no trouble ducking down to Florida on short notice,” DeSantis wrote, referencing Harris’ last-minute trip that was first reported by NBC News.
“So given your grave concern (which, I must assume, is sincere) about what you think our standards say, I am officially inviting you back down to Florida to discuss our African American History standards. We will be happy to host you in Tallahassee,” he added.
A Harris spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.
Harris is scheduled to fly to Orlando on Tuesday to deliver remarks at the 20th Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Quadrennial Convention.
DeSantis’ letter comes after the vice president said in Jacksonville this month that Florida officials “want to replace history with lies,” days after the state’s Board of Education laid out its new approach to Black history in a 216-page document.
During her remarks last week, Harris said that “extremist” leaders were trying to “push propaganda to our children.”
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DeSantis, who earlier this year blocked an advanced placement African American studies course from being taught to high schoolers in his state, accused the Biden administration disparaging his state and misinforming Americans about its “nation-leading standalone” standards on the subject.
“One would think the White House would applaud such boldness in teaching the unique and important story of African American History,” DeSantis wrote. “But you have instead attempted to score cheap political points and label Florida parents ‘extremists.’ It’s past time to set the record straight.”
The governor, who is a distant second to former President Donald Trump in numerous polls of GOP primary voters, said he was available to meet beginning on Wednesday and would invite William Allen a member of Florida’s African American History Standards Workgroup, who defended the standards as “rigorous and comprehensive.”
DeSantis has repeatedly defended the standards, suggesting that slaves had “parlayed” skills used in forced labor “into doing things later in life.”
The new standards and DeSantis’ defense of them have been criticized by the majority of Black Republicans in Congress, including Rep. John James of Michigan, who tweeted his disapproval saying that “nothing” about slavery was a “net benefit” to his ancestors, and Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, who called on the state Education Department to “correct” its new standards. James and Donalds are both supporting Trump in the 2024 primary.