Last week, Florida’s recent changes to their African American history curriculum made headlines and have been lambasted by critics. Now, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members are pressing “the White House, Justice Department and the Department of Education to adopt an ‘aggressive legal strategy’ to scrutinize” the curriculum.
The CBC wants the federal government to analyze and examine whether school districts in Florida “are violating federal discrimination law – from banning books covering racial themes,” which added language around teaching students how slavery had some benefits for enslaved Black people.
At a press conference last week, CBC Chairman Steven Hosford (D-NV), said he had a meeting with the Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona where they discussed “actions that might be taken.” Rep. Hosford also said that “we have discussed with the White House the need to have a very aggressive legal strategy to want to uphold the law.”
Hosford stated “what is happening in Florida highlights what many caucus members see as an attack on the rights of Black Americans across the country.” “The attacks against black people and blackness are coordinated, well funded, coming from every side and they are about race…We need to be clear about who we are up against and what we must do to win. There is so much at stake,” said Hosford.
Citing the recently established Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, Rep. Hosford said “Their story is a reminder of the horrors of our nation’s past,” and just how high the stakes are.
CBC member Rep. Maxwell Frost, who represents Congressional district 10 in the state, talked about the current grassroots efforts on the ground to educate parents about their rights and how they can “protect their children and what they are being taught.” “We have 12 or 11 organizers working every day in central Florida,” Rep. Frost stated. “It’s a long haul and there’s a lot of work to do. And again, it’s not just about Florida. This is about the entire country.”
This isn’t the first action the CBC has taken either. Following the release of the standards, CBC Chairman Steven Hosford alongside other CBC members issued an incisive statement, strongly condemning the new standards. “The Congressional Black Caucus condemns in the strongest language any school curriculum that would suggest that enslaved Africans benefited in any way from slavery. This revisionist telling of American history approved by the Florida State Board of Education is a shameful disservice to Florida’s students and tantamount to gaslighting of the highest order.”
“The Florida Board of Education’s attempt to minimize the darkest chapter in our nation’s history is an affront to the intelligence of the American people and an overt attempt to maintain white supremacy. The CBC is calling for the Florida State Board of Education to immediately reverse its decision and put an end to the attacks on Black history in the state,” the statement from the CBC continued, concluding with “The CBC will continue to push for the passage of the ‘Black History is American History Act’ reintroduced by Rep. Joyce Beatty to incentivize schools and educators to teach Black history in the classroom.”