Controversial New Black History Curriculum in Florida Schools Sparks Backlash and Criticism

The Florida State Board of Education has recently approved new rules for teaching Black history in public schools, sparking controversy and criticism. The new standards present a sanitized and misleading version of the history of slavery in America, suggesting that enslaved people developed skills that could benefit them personally.[0] This revisionist approach has been widely condemned for distorting the truth and perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson expressed his disappointment in the decision, stating that it represents a step backward for educational justice in Florida. The new rules were incorporated into changes regarding Florida’s academic standards for social studies and were approved without discussion following public input.

The 216-page document outlining the new standards selectively omits or obscures facts about America’s history of anti-Black violence.[1] It requires middle school students to learn about how slaves developed skills that could be applied for their personal benefit.[2] Critics argue that this portrays slavery as a beneficial job-training program rather than acknowledging its dehumanizing and brutal nature.[3]

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis defended the new standards, suggesting that they highlight how some enslaved individuals were able to use their skills, such as blacksmithing, to improve their lives.[4] However, this argument has been widely criticized for minimizing the horrors of slavery and failing to address the systemic oppression and violence inflicted upon enslaved people.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out against Florida’s new Black history curriculum in a passionate speech in Jacksonville.[5] She vowed to fight against the state’s attempt to teach students that Black people somehow benefited from slavery. Harris accused right-wing Republicans of attempting to rewrite American history and called them “extremist so-called leaders.”[6] She emphasized that slavery involved dehumanization and subjugation, not the development of beneficial skills.

Critics argue that the new standards in Florida are rewriting and omitting key facts about slavery.[7] They point out that teaching that some enslaved people benefited from slavery perpetuates harmful narratives and undermines efforts to educate students about the true history of oppression and systemic racism.

The White House has also weighed in on the controversy, labeling the new curriculum as an attempt to rewrite the history of slavery in the U.S. Despite pushback from one of its Black creators, the White House has doubled down on its criticism of the curriculum.

The inclusion of the 1920 Ocoee Massacre in the new standards has also drawn criticism.[8] The standards conflate the massacre, in which white mobs killed dozens of African Americans for attempting to vote, with acts of violence perpetrated by African Americans.[9] Critics argue that this misrepresentation distorts the truth and fails to acknowledge the systemic racism and violence faced by Black communities.[8]

Florida’s new Black history curriculum has faced backlash from both Democrats and Republicans. Critics argue that it distorts the true history of slavery and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. They emphasize the importance of providing students with a full and honest picture of America’s past in order to promote understanding and healing.[3]

The controversy surrounding Florida’s new Black history standards highlights the ongoing debate over how history is taught in schools. It raises important questions about the responsibility of educators to accurately portray the experiences of marginalized communities and the dangers of perpetuating misleading narratives. As the discussion continues, it is crucial to prioritize an inclusive and accurate understanding of history that promotes empathy, understanding, and justice.

0. “NAACP President Decries New Florida Board of Education Rules” NAACP, 19 Jul. 2023,

1. “Florida and Ron DeSantis education standards resurrect racist myths” MSNBC, 24 Jul. 2023,

2. “DeSantis tries to distance himself from Florida’s Black history curriculum” CBS News, 24 Jul. 2023,

3. “DeSantis doubles down on claim that some Blacks benefited from slavery” Detroit News, 23 Jul. 2023,

4. “As Florida history standards face pushback, DeSantis isn’t helping” MSNBC, 24 Jul. 2023,

5. “WH doubles down on widely scrutinized ‘lie’ about Florida slavery curriculum despite Black creator’s pushback” Fox News, 24 Jul. 2023,

6. “Kamala Harris says claiming slavery had some benefit is ‘propaganda’ being pushed on US children – as it happened” The Guardian US, 21 Jul. 2023,

7. “Christie says DeSantis has only himself to blame for Florida education controversy” POLITICO, 23 Jul. 2023,

8. “New Florida standards teach that Black people benefited from slavery because it taught useful skills” NBC News, 20 Jul. 2023,

9. “Florida official explaining new Black history public education standards in Miami-Dade gets booed” WPLG Local 10, 24 Jul. 2023,

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