Posted on July 24, 2023

Harris Blasts Florida’s History Standards’ Claim Slavery Included ‘Benefit’ to Black Americans

Ben Gittleson et al., ABC News, July 23, 2023

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Florida Friday to forcefully rebuke new, controversial Black history standards approved unanimously this week by the state’s board of education.

Afterward, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis called her remarks “outrageous” and defended the board — even as he appeared to try to distance himself from the specifics of the controversy.

“These extremist, so-called leaders should model what we know to be the correct and right approach if we are invested in the well-being of our children,” Harris said in a fiery speech in Jacksonville {snip}


Among the changes approved Wednesday was a section of “benchmark clarifications,” and among those was one that states “instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

“How is it that anyone could suggest that amidst these atrocities [of slavery], there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” Harris said.

Acts of violence “against and by” African Americans are also mentioned in lesson plans included in the new changes.

These changes come after the Florida Legislature passed DeSantis’ “Stop-WOKE” law, described as an act that creates protection for students and workers, allowing them to not feel “discrimination based on race, color, sex or national origin.”


“When I think about what is happening here in Florida, I am deeply concerned,” Harris said. “Because, let’s be clear, I do believe this is not only about the state of Florida. There is a national agenda afoot.”


At a news conference Friday night in Salt Lake City, Utah, DeSantis called Harris’s remarks “absolutely ridiculous, totally outrageous.”

“These are the most robust standards in African American history, probably anywhere in the country. Anyone who reads that will see that it’s very thorough, very factual, and for them to try to demagogue it — look, that may have worked in the past. Nobody is buying their nonsense anymore …”

But when presented with the language of one of the benchmarks in question — one calling for instruction on how “slaves developed skills that, in some instances, could be used for their personal benefit” — DeSantis seemed to distance himself even as he defended the work of the board that put the benchmarks together.

“Well, you should talk to them about it. I mean, I didn’t do it. I wasn’t involved in it,” he said. “But I think what they’re doing is, I think that they’re probably going to show some of the folks that eventually parlayed being a blacksmith into doing things later in life. {snip}” adding, “These were scholars that put that together. It was not anything that was done politically.”