DeSantis Did Not Ban Teaching that Rosa Parks was Black
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We should know better. When headlines continue to declare that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has outlawed teaching African American history, we should pause and consider how utterly ridiculous the claim is. As the saying goes, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its boots. The Ron DeSantis lie began when he refused to allow the College Board to teach an AP African American studies course. What was conveniently left out of stories painting DeSantis as a modern-day Bull Connor was that the AP course included lessons on queer theory, intersectionality and even voodoo.
DeSantis is clear about the importance of teaching African American history. However, in his words, back in January, when the AP Course debate first raged.
"Now, who would say that an important part of Black History is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids, and so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that's a political agenda. And so, that's the wrong side of the line for Florida standards."
"When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes."
The latest claim is that DeSantis banned teaching that Rosa Parks was black. We would think this, too, would be ignored by the mainstream media as complete nonsense. Or if they believed it, we thought they would at least do a kernel of research to get to the truth.
A draft textbook did indeed exclude the mention of Rosa Park's race. But that had nothing to do with a mandate from DeSantis and everything to do with an overreaction by the publishers, Studies Weekly, who issued an apology on their homepage that during the Florida social studies adoption, "individuals in our curriculum team, severely overreacted in their interpretation of HB7 and made unapproved revisions. Typically, our quality assurance process would have flagged and denied edit approval. Unfortunately, during the final hours before the deadline, they circumvented our established protocols in an attempt to submit their revisions on time. We have identified those individuals, taken corrective action, and implemented additional safeguards to avoid any issues in the future."
The truth is pretty easy to discover if journalists would bother to ask questions or do a quick internet search of the publisher. We are not journalists. We are opinion-makers. But both journalists and opinion-makers should be honest brokers. As honest brokers, we will say that according to Studies Weekly, publishers were not given clear guidance by DeSantis on implementing HB 7. For the record, we believe that is just an excuse to cover up the actions of employees who wanted to make a disingenuous point by removing Rosa Parks' race.
We are "trust but verify conservatives." So, a few years ago, we launched the website JustReadTheDamnBill.com to encourage Americans to read federal legislation rather than take the word of media or politicians. We have added a link to Florida HB 7 for anyone interested in the truth of what is actually in the legislation.
DeSantis must quickly put on his boots to debunk the lie that has gone around the world. He should go on the offensive and show the breadth of African American studies taught in Florida schools. His team must sit down not only with the mainstream press but, most importantly, with the Black press and explain why HB 7 empowers black families rather than erases their history.
The Bass Sisters: Dee Dee Bass Wilbon and Deana Bass Williams are sisters and co-founders of Bass Public Affairs a Washington, DC based public affairs firm. They co-host the podcast Policy and Pound Cake. Their ongoing digital series Our American Story shares the broad and beautiful history of the Black American experience.