Harris Speaks to Florida Lawmakers About DeSanti’s Rejection of African American Studies Classes

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Vice President Harris spoke with Democratic leaders in Florida about Governor Ron DeSantis (R)’s decision to block an advanced placement African American Studies course, criticizing Republicans in the state as “so-called extremist leaders.”

Harris spoke with House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D) and Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D) on Sunday during a visit to Florida marking the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade of the Supreme Court. In the conversation, Harris, the first black and first woman to be vice president, took aim at who made the decision to ban the course.

“Every student in our country should be able to learn about the culture, contributions and experiences of all Americans – including black Americans – who have shaped our history,” Harris told lawmakers, according to a White House official.

“Unfortunately, in Florida, so-called extremist leaders ban books, block history classes and prevent teachers from freely discussing who they are and who they love,” added Harris. “Anyone who bans the teaching of American history has no right to shape America’s future.”

Florida officials notified the College Board of their decision to block the course in a letter last week.

“The content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” the Florida Department of Education said in the letter.

The letter did not specify which state law the course violated.

Florida’s decision to ban the AP course is just one of a series of policies in several conservative-controlled states to restrict how race is taught in schools. Many Republican governors and lawmakers have taken aim at critical race theory, an academic concept that analyzes how systemic racism has affected American laws and institutions. Last week in Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders(R) in one of her first official acts, issued an executive order prohibiting teachers from talking about race in certain ways.

The White House called the DeSantis administration’s decision “incomprehensible.”

“It’s mind-boggling to see… this ban or block, to be more specific, that DeSantis has put forward,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday.

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