If Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis believed he could just ban an Advanced Placement African American Studies (APAAS) course in the state and there wouldn’t be outrage, he was as wrong as he is about almost everything he involves himself in.
Standing in the Florida Capitol Wednesday, famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump, local activists, and Democratic lawmakers took aim at DeSantis’ racist decision to ban the course and said they plan to file a lawsuit against the governor.
“If he does not negotiate with the College Board to allow AP African American Studies to be taught in classrooms across the state of Florida, these three young people will be the lead plaintiffs in a historic lawsuit,” Crump said, vowing that the Republican governor “cannot exterminate our culture.”
RELATED STORY: DeSantis blocks College Board from introducing AP African American Studies course in Florida
On Jan. 12, DeSantis wrote a rejection letter to the state College Board nixing the AP course, claiming it is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
The College Board, which runs the SAT test, recently launched the APAAS pilot of the course in 60 U.S. schools, but conservatives have pounced on the course, alleging that it promotes critical race theory (CRT)—a course that has never been taught anywhere except in law schools, and has been adopted by Republicans as a boogeyman to pass anti-Black education legislation.
Tuesday, the College Board said that the “official framework” of the course is being updated to reflect feedback from high schools and colleges nationwide.
In a statement obtained by The Washington Post, Alex Lanfranconi, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Education, wrote, “We look forward to reviewing the College Board’s changes and expect the removal of content on Critical Race Theory, Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, and other topics that violate our law.”
Friday, Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. tweeted that the AP course was “filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law.” He added, “We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”
The Post reports that dozens of anti-DeSantis lawmakers and activists gathered recently in Tallahassee for a “stop the Black Attack” rally.
Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones says there are lots of issues more important than the AP course that DeSantis should be focusing on.
“These are the issues that‘s being ignored because we have to deal with the promotion of Jim Crow 3.0 by people who don’t know and don’t care about what’s happening in Black communities, but they desire to referee how you teach our history,” Jones said.
What’s happening in Florida is undoubtedly what’s likely to occur across the nation as DeSantis makes his White House run in 2024. His culture war is escalating fast, and underrepresented students will suffer in its wake.
State Rep. Michele Rayner said that DeSantis is on a political “witch hunt” and that “the erasure of history is not a secret,” implying that students in Florida know what’s going on. “There are 2.8 million students sitting in Florida public schools right now knowing that their governor does not want them to learn about Black history.”
Black religious leaders and history teachers are also speaking out against DeSantis.
Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr., the pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, said: “We urge my beloved governor of Florida and the Florida Department of Education to not diminish, dismantle and destroy the teaching of Black studies and do more research about the power of diversity, equality, and inclusion.”
DeSantis has not publicly responded to Crump’s suit.