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The board of directors and supporters of the Florida Democratic Black Women’s Consortium (FDBWC) find Gov. Ron DeSantis’s decision to ban AP African American Studies a direct violation of Florida Statue 1003.42 (2) (H).
We are cognizant that the Individual Freedom Act, HB 7, also known as the Stop W.O.K.E. Act (Wrong to our Kids and Employees), does not supersede the law that requires the history of African Americans to be included in the instructional teaching of American history. We are equally disappointed that, as a governor, he would disregard approximately 41.6 million African Americans who live in the United States and whose ancestors have made significant contributions to the founding of this nation.
Gov. DeSantis’s 2023 inaugural address left many of our state's 3.19 million African Americans speechless. The speech may have been expedient for his political aspirations but the descendants who have scars of the Rosewood, Ocoee, Perry massacres, Groveland Four, Tallahassee bus boycott, Ax Handle Saturday, Slavery, Jim Crow, Redlining, and Discriminatory Mortgages see his actions as a method of erasing Black Americans’ rich history of conflict and contributions.
Members of our organization find his remarks, “Florida is the state where ‘woke dies’ offensive and in direct conflict with the progress this nation has made in building a harmonious relationship with descendants of enslaved people. What better place to discuss these historical moments than in a public classroom? Florida’s history and African American history need to be taught in an environment where discussions will yield positive outcomes — not buried as if they never happened.
The governor’s methodology of building a harmonious relationship with all races is less desirable. It reflects that he only sees one race -- the white race. He has forgotten the black mother who made a compelling ad for his gubernatorial race and characterized him as compassionate. Unfortunately, we, the Board of Directors of the FDBWC, find that characteristic lacking.
For Floridians to work collaboratively, we must understand each other from a historical viewpoint. Prime Minister Winston Churchill paraphrased Santayanna’s quote in his 1948 speech to the House of Commons when he stated, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
The board of directors of the FDBWC asks that Gov. DeSantis withdraw his rejection of AP African American Studies because this course has value. It is an elective course that allows students academic freedom of choice based on their interests.
History is an evolving door - each day, history is made. His actions will be chronicled on the history pages, and future Floridians and historians will want to understand his actions. Again, we implore him to reconsider his action and allow our students to gain valuable information by studying African American history in our public schools.
Valerie Brant-Wilson is a retired Vero Beach High School counselor and chairman of the Florida Democratic Black Women’s Consortium, a statewide 527 PAC.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Gov. DeSantis: Do the right thing and reverse your stand on AP course