Black Scholar Rejects Kamala Harris’s Lies About Florida Slavery Curriculum

black scholar rejects kamala harriss lies about florida slavery curriculum
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Dr. William Allen, a black scholar who was among the 13 experts who crafted Florida’s history standards for public schools, is firing back at claims by Vice President Kamala Harris that the curriculum is pro-slavery.

Harris made the claim this weekend that “extremists in Florida” were pushing “a dangerous lie that enslaved people benefited from slavery.” (Harris’s own ancestors reportedly owned slaves in Jamaica, records suggest.)

The curriculum pulls no punches about slavery, emphasizing the “harsh conditions” endured by slaves, while noting the contribution of black patriots to American freedom, including heroes of the American Revolution.

But NBC News claimed: “Florida’s public schools will now teach students that some Black people benefited from slavery because it taught them useful skills.”

The claim is based on one line from the curriculum: “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

That was all that Harris and others needed to attack Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis, and all Republicans.

Florida’s Department of Education responded that the critics were distorting the curriculum (via WTSP):

The Department of Education is defending the board’s decision to adopt the standards, which they say were crafted by a workgroup made up of 13 educators and academics.

Two of those workgroup members, Dr. William Allen and Dr. Frances Presley Rice, provided a statement to 10 Tampa Bay, saying in part, “The intent of this particular benchmark clarification is to show that some slaves developed highly specialized trades from which they benefitted. This is factual and well documented.”

They added, “Any attempt to reduce slaves to just victims of oppression fails to recognize their strength, courage and resiliency during a difficult time in American history. Florida students deserve to learn how slaves took advantage of whatever circumstances they were in to benefit themselves and the community of African descendants.”

Dr. William Allen, a black scholar who helped develop Florida’s new standards, and who once served as the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, also responded directly to Harris’s claim (via the New York Post):

“The only criticism I’ve encountered so far [on the new curriculum] is a single one that was articulated by the vice president, and which was an error,” Allen, who is black, told ABC News in footage touted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary.

ABC News interviewed Allen, but apparently left out part of the interview specifically disputing Harris’s claim:

Others accused Harris and fellow critics of failing to read the full curriculum, or of willfully distorting it.

Charles C. W. Cooke of the National Review observed: “If you are able to read it and conclude that the single reference to slaves developing skills … is indicative of the narrative direction of the course, rather than a tiny (and correct) part of it, then you are beyond saving and you deserve to live your life as an ignoramus. There is simply no way of perusing this course and concluding that it “gaslights” people or whitewashes slavery.”

The Republican Party was formed to oppose the expansion of slavery, which the Democratic Party wanted to allow.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Authored by Joel B. Pollak via Breitbart July 25th 2023