US Vice President Kamala Harris is making a last-minute trip to Florida on Friday to address changes to the state’s educational guidelines that critics say downplay the horror of slavery.
It is the latest example of how Harris has been the point person in the White House to address cultural issues championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, such as race, education and abortion.
The Florida Board of Education on Wednesday approved a new black history program that is consistent with laws DeSantis has promoted to prevent what he calls left-wing indoctrination.RELATED
The new curriculum includes explanations of how blacks benefited from the skills they acquired. In the early school grades, it focuses on the achievements of African-Americans rather than the injustices they suffered due to slavery and segregation.
Harris spoke of the decision Thursday in Indianapolis at the Delta Sigma Theta women’s college national convention.
He said “extremists” promote a “historical revisionism” according to which “slavery benefited the enslaved.”
“They insult us in an attempt to manipulate us and we will not stand for it,” Harris said.
He added that “there is a lot at stake right now; our fundamental rights and freedoms, fact versus fiction, the founding principles of what it means to be a democracy.”
Harris avoided naming DeSantis, instead speaking generally of “so-called leaders” who she says disenfranchise Americans and manipulate history for political gain.
DeSantis responded to Harris and the Democrats in a statement, saying that “Florida stands in your way and we will continue to expose your agenda and your lies.” He accused the federal government of being “obsessed” with his state, as he ignores other issues, like border security and crime, that Republicans prefer to focus on.
Christian Ziegler, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said Harris was “going to lecture Florida parents that their children belong to the government and that the government has the right to indoctrinate and sexualize our children.”
He added that “government overreach on parental rights has already been overwhelmingly rejected in Florida.”
President Joe Biden and Harris have focused their re-election campaign on defending freedoms.
In a video announcing he will seek a second term in office, Biden said Republicans “dictate the health care decisions women can make about their health, ban books and tell people who they can love while making it harder for them to vote.”
Harris will deliver a speech Friday in Jacksonville, one of the few places in Florida with good news for Democrats, where Donna Deegan was elected mayor in May.