Harris warns against trying to ‘erase America’s past’ during Black History Month event

President Biden and Vice President Harris on Monday emphasized the importance of teaching Black history and warned of the dangers of trying to “erase America’s past.”

The comments from Harris and Biden came amid a growing debate over the teaching some aspects of the nation’s history, with some Republican leaders pushing to limit certain subject matter within African American studies.

“Black history is American history. Living history. Breathing history,” Harris, the first Black woman to serve as vice president, said at a Black History Month reception. “History that we create every day. And history that we then must teach and celebrate. A history that helps us to understand how the past has influenced the present, and potentially our future.

“And let us all be clear — we will not as a nation build a better future for America by trying to erase America’s past,” Harris continued. “This month, and all year round, we must recognize the full arc of our nation’s history.”

Biden, speaking after Harris, echoed her message about the importance of giving Americans an accurate depiction of the nation’s past.

“It’s important to say from the White House, for the entire country to hear, history matters, and Black history matters,” Biden said. “I can’t just choose to learn what we want to own. We learn what we should know. We have to learn everything, the good, the bad and the truth, and who we are as a nation. That’s what great nations do.”

Republicans have in recent years ratcheted up their attacks on “critical race theory,” a methodology that argues racism and racial inequality are a result of systemic power structures. And they have decried those who argue America is a racist nation.

Just last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a likely 2024 presidential candidate, moved to block a new Advanced Placement (AP) course for high school students on African American studies.

In rejecting AP African American Studies, the Florida Department of Education wrote in a letter to the College Board Florida Partnership that “the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”

The decision has sparked an uproar from educators and activists, while the College Board has admitted to “mistakes” in its rollout of the course.

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