Ron DeSantis looks to settle score with Kamala Harris over Florida’s Black history curriculum
WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis challenged Vice President Kamala Harris to come to Florida and have a discussion with him about the state’s new African American History curriculum, which she has derided as “propaganda” and “lies” over an assertion that slaves benefitted from skills they developed in captivity.
DeSantis invited Harris to meet with him in Tallahassee, the state’s capital, as early as Wednesday of this week in a letter that blasted the Biden administration and accused the vice president of attempting to “score cheap political points.”
The Florida governor, who is also seeking the GOP nomination for the presidency, said in the Monday letter that his office posted on social media that Biden officials had “repeatedly disparaged our state and misinformed Americans” about the state’s Black history standards.
“One would think the White House would applaud such boldness in teaching the unique and important story of African American History,” he said. “But you have instead attempted to score cheap political points and label Florida parents ‘extremists.’ It’s past time to set the record straight.”
Harris was already scheduled to be in Orlando on Tuesday to deliver remarks at an African Methodist Episcopal convention. Her office did not respond to a request for comment on DeSantis’ letter, which took a jab at Harris over the situation at the southern border and a taunted her over a last-minute trip she made to Jacksonville last month to speak out against the new standards.
After the state released new curriculum that advised instruction on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” Harris went to Florida and decried “extremist so-called leaders” who “dare to push propaganda to our children.”
“Adults know what slavery really involved. It involved rape. It involved torture. It involved taking a baby from their mother,” she said.
To suggest that “there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization” is false and misleading,” the vice president said. “And it is pushing propaganda.”
DeSantis defended the standards at a news conference, where he said he wasn’t involved in their creation directed questions to the state’s education department.
“They’re probably going to show that some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life,” he said.
Black Republicans including South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who is competing against DeSantis in the GOP presidential contest, have criticized the Florida governor for his comments and called on him to clarify his position.
“Nothing about that 400 years of evil was a ‘net benefit’ to my ancestors,” GOP Rep. John James of Michigan told DeSantis is a social media post.