Today in Jacksonville, Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks condemning the new Black history standards approved by the Florida Board of Education. In her speech, Harris called out the “extremist” Florida lawmakers and “so-called leaders” for their roles in instilling fear in teachers and replacing history with lies. Harris highlighted that the curriculum is nothing short of propaganda. Also, the vice president emphasized that it is simply “false” and “misleading” to argue that those who suffered through the atrocities of slavery could’ve possibly benefitted from such a horrible situation. 

In her speech, Harris urged the audience to stand united and not be distracted by extremists’ agenda to create unnecessary debates with the goal of dividing our country. 

Here’s a look at some of the coverage: 

Articles: 

Associated Press: Harris says Florida rules on Black history pushed by DeSantis are ‘propaganda’

[Chris Megerian and Brendan Farrington, 7/21/23] 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris said extremists want to “replace history with lies” as she traveled to Florida on Friday to assail Republican efforts to overhaul educational standards, plunging into a battle over schooling that has rippled through classrooms around the country.

“They dare to push propaganda to our children,” she said in Jacksonville. “This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that.”

Her trip came two days after the Florida Board of Education approved a revised Black history curriculum to satisfy legislation signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate who has accused public schools of liberal indoctrination. The new standards include instruction that enslaved people benefited from skills that they learned.

“How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” Harris asked.

She did not mention DeSantis by name, instead referring to “so-called leaders.” However, the speech was another example of how Harris has been the White House point person for addressing cultural issues such as race, schooling and abortion that DeSantis has championed in the governor’s office and on the campaign trail.

[…]

Harris, the first Black person to serve as vice president, spoke from the Ritz Theater and Museum, located in a historically African American neighborhood of Jacksonville.

She described “true patriotism” as “fighting for a nation that will be better for each generation to come,” and she said schools would better prepare students for the world if they don’t gloss over historical crimes.

“Let us not be seduced into believing that somehow we will be better if we forget,” she said. “We will be better if we remember. We will be stronger if we remember.”

CNN: Harris accuses ‘so-called leaders’ of pushing propaganda and waging culture wars in fiery Florida speech

[Jasmine Wright and Kevin Liptak, 7/21/23] 

Vice President Kamala Harris went headfirst into flashpoint culture war issues Friday when she slammed Florida Republicans for the state Board of Education’s newly approved set of standards for teaching Black history, accusing “so-called leaders” of pushing propaganda and willfully misleading children.

It’s the latest example of Harris acting as a rapid response voice for the administration, quickly deploying around the country in the immediate aftermath of a controversial vote or law being passed to offer forceful pushback of moves taken by state Republicans on guns, abortion and education. On Wednesday, the Florida Board of Education approved a new set of standards for how Black history should be taught in the state’s public schools, sparking criticism from education and civil rights advocates who said students should be allowed to learn the “full truth” of American history.

“We know the history. And let us not let these politicians who are trying to divide our country win” Harris said in her fiery high-profile speech. “They are creating these unnecessary debates. This is unnecessary to debate whether enslaved people benefited from slavery. Are you kidding me? Are we supposed to debate that?”

Harris said that she was concerned Republicans want to “replace history with lies.” She highlighted new standards, which, according to a document posted to the state’s Department of Education website, require instruction for middle schoolers to include “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

[…]

On her eighth trip to Florida since taking office, Harris criticized the state’s governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis – though not by name – in what has become a clear strategy to increase the Biden administration’s engagement with the Republican. That strategy has been bolstered by polling and research showing Americans opposed to banning books that include information on slavery and other issues.

The former California attorney general adopted a prosecutorial cadence to shine light on the Biden administration’s efforts to stand as a safeguard against what she called a national agenda by extremists to claw back rights.

“These extremists, so-called leaders should model what we know to be the correct and right approach if we really are invested in the well-being of our children. Instead, they dare to push propaganda to our children. This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that,” she said.

On Friday, Harris made the point that American allies and enemies abroad know the history of slavery in the US but these proposals, she alleged, would leave children from the US without that same knowledge.

“That’s building in a handicap for our children that they are going to be the ones in the room who don’t know their own history with the rest of the world,” she said.

On the standards themselves, Harris described the atrocities of slavery in detail, reciting how children were ripped from their mothers’ arms and were treated as less than human.

“So, in the context of that, how is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities, that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization,” Harris questioned.

The vice president has spent the summer months traveling the country to speak out in support of freedoms she and Democrats believe are under attack by Republicans, including abortion and the right to learn. Harris has appeared in front of base Democratic voters that include Black voters, women and young people to deliver her message.

Friday’s last-minute trip to Florida – it was only scheduled on Thursday night – marks the second time this year she’s delivered high-profile remarks in the Sunshine State meant to condemn Republican attacks on rights. Harris told the mainly Black crowd in Jacksonville’s historic LaVille neighborhood that the administration was listening and quickly responding to their concerns.

“You are not alone,” Harris said.

NBC News: Kamala Harris accuses Florida officials of trying to ‘replace history with lies’ through new curriculum

[Zoë Richards, 7/21/23] 

Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday rebuked the Florida Board of Education’s new standards for how Black history will be taught in schools, calling it an effort by extremist leaders to spread propaganda.

Speaking in Jacksonville, Harris said the recently approved curriculum, which suggests some slaves reaped benefits from the skills they acquired during forced labor, was based on a policy intent on misleading children.

“They want to replace history with lies,” Harris said. “These extremist, so-called leaders should model what we know to be the correct and right approach if we really are invested in the well being of our children. Instead, they dare to push propaganda to our children. This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that.”

[…]

“How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” Harris said.

Recounting her own schooling, the vice president said she was the product of a public school system where teachers provided the “full expanse of information,” and encouraged students to “then reach their own conclusions and exercise critical thought in a way that was directly intended to nurture their leadership.”

“It is because of that approach that I stand before you as vice president of the United States,” she said.

[…]

Harris on Friday urged Americans to face rather than forget history.

“Our history as a nation is born out of tragedy and triumph. That’s who we are. Part of that is what gives us our grit,” she said.

“So let’s reject the notion that we would deny all of this in terms of our history. Let us not be seduced into believing that somehow we will be better if we forget it. We will be better if we remember.”

 ABC News: Harris blasts Florida’s history standards claim slavery included ‘benefit’ to Black Americans

[Ben Gittleson, Nakylah Carter, and Fritz Farrow 7/21/23] 

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Florida Friday to forcefully rebuke new, controversial Black history standards approved unanimously this week by the state’s board of education and backed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.

[…]

“How is it that anyone could suggest that amidst these atrocities [of slavery], there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” Harris said.

Acts of violence “against and by” African Americans are also mentioned in lesson plans included in the new changes.

[…]

While in Florida, the vice president also planned to “convene parents, educators, civil rights leaders, and elected officials to address these attacks and work together to protect fundamental freedoms, including the freedom for women to make decisions about their own bodies, the freedom to live safe from gun violence, and the freedom to vote,” a White House official said earlier.

HuffPost: Kamala Harris Slams Ron DeSantis Over Florida’s Black History ‘Propaganda’

[Igor Bobic, 7/21/23]

Vice President Kamala Harris laid into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday for his administration’s controversial educational standards for teaching about Black history.

“They want to replace history with lies,” Harris said in Jacksonville, the Republican governor’s home turf, during a last-minute trip to the state. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not have it.”

The vice president, who made history as the first Black person to hold the position, met with local teachers and civil rights activists before giving an aggressive speech responding to GOP efforts nationwide to ban books and curtail rights in and out of the classroom.

[…]

“How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” Harris asked Friday.

She then took a dig at DeSantis ― who is running for the GOP presidential nomination ― by referring to “people who want to be leaders” and saying they are “pushing propaganda on our children.”

[…]

Harris first took aim against Florida’s education standards in Indianapolis Thursday at a national convention for Delta Sigma Theta, a historically Black sorority.

She warned that “there is so much at stake in this moment: our most basic rights and freedoms, fact versus fiction, foundational principles about what it means to be a democracy.”

The Hill: Harris: Florida is ‘pushing propaganda’ on children 

[Cheyanne M. Daniels, 7/21/23]

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Florida on Friday to address the state’s new education guidelines that limit how Black history is taught in public schools. 

Harris accused “extremists in Florida” of trying to instill fear in teachers through book bans, restrictions on teaching about gender or sexuality and lying about slavery. 

“They dare to push propaganda to our children,” Harris said in Jacksonville. “Adults know what slavery really involved. It involved rape. It involved torture. It involved taking a baby from their mother.”

“It involved some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world,” she continued. “So in the context of that, how is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities, that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?”

[…]

“When I think about what is happening, then, here in Florida, I am deeply concerned,” Harris said. “Because, let’s be clear, I do believe this is not only about the state of Florida. There’s a national agenda.”

[…]

Harris said politicians are trying to divide the country with these types of policies, and Americans shouldn’t be “distracted.”

“They are creating these unnecessary debates,” she said. “This is unnecessary to debate whether enslaved people benefited from slavery. Are you kidding me? Are we supposed to debate that?”

[…]

Harris urged listeners on Friday to not let politicians divide the nation. 

“We will be stronger if we remember,” the vice president said. “We fought a war to end the sin of slavery. People died…because of their belief that slavery was a sin against man, that it was inhumane, that it was not reflective of who we believe ourselves to be as a country.”

“We know our collective history,” Harris added. “It is our shared history, and we will not allow them to suggest anything other than what we know. The vast majority of us hang so much more in common that what separates us, so let us fight for what is right.”

Washington Examiner: Kamala Harris attacks ‘extremists’ in Florida after DeSantis education fight

[Eden Villalovas, 7/21/23]

Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday spoke out against Florida’s new standards for teaching black history, championed by the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL).

The Florida Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to update standards for teaching black history, including implementing instruction on how slaves benefited from skills that they learned.

“I do believe this is not only about the state of Florida, there is a national agenda afoot,” Harris said to a riled crowd Friday afternoon.

[…]

“Extremists, so-called leaders, for months have dared to ban books, book bans in this year of our Lord 2023,” Harris said. “Extremists here in Florida pass a law don’t say gay, trying to instill fear in our teachers that they should not live their full life and love who they love.”

Harris called the debate of whether or not enslaved people benefited from slavery “unnecessary,” and she urged attendees to not be distracted by the attempt to “divide our country.”

[…]

“And now on top of all of that, they want to replace history with lies, middle school students in Florida to be told that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” Harris said. “High schoolers may be taught that victims of violence, of massacres, were also perpetrators.”

[…]

The vice president emphasized what she said was the importance of teaching children the truth about the nation’s history to prepare students before they enter the world.

Harris said the changes would be “building in a handicap for our children that they are gonna be the ones in the room who don’t know their own history when the rest of the world does.

“We will stand united as a country,” Harris said. “We know our collective history. It is our shared history. We are all in this together. We know that we rise and fall together as a nation. And we will not allow them to suggest anything other than what we know the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us.”

TheGrio: Harris delivers fiery speech in Florida after school curriculum on slavery draws outrage

[Gerren Keith Gaynor, 7/21/23]

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a fiery speech in Florida after the state’s education board issued controversial new standards for teaching students about slavery and racism in America.

Harris joined civil rights leaders, educators, community members and elected officials in Jacksonville, Florida, where she forcefully condemned Republican leaders over a statewide African-American history curriculum that would teach middle schoolers that enslaved Black people benefited from slavery because they learned new skills and that Black Americans committed violence during race massacres. 

“They want to replace history with lies,” decried Harris inside the Ritz Theatre and Museum in the historically Black neighborhood of LaVilla.

“Adults know what slavery really involved,” she added. “It involved rape. It involved torture. It involved taking a baby from their mother … [and] some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world.”

[…]

“They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us,” said Vice President Harris followed by roaring applause. “We will not stand for it,” she continued, “We who share a collective experience in knowing we must honor history and our duty in the context of legacy.”

Harris described the Florida State Board of Education’s latest standards as an effort to “push forward revisionist history.” The vice president called Republican lawmakers across the country “extremists” for also passing laws seeking to ban books about “our true history.”

During her Friday remarks, Vice President Harris decried, “How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities, there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?”

Harris also sought to connect the latest controversy in Florida to several political issues, from voter suppression and anti-LGBTQ+ laws to book bans and abortion restrictions. “A lot of them revert to the same source,” she argued.

Orlando Sentinel: Vice President Harris slams Florida’s Black history standards in Jacksonville speech

[Steven Lemongello, 7/21/23]

Vice President Kamala Harris slammed Florida’s new Black history standards at an event in Jacksonville on Friday, calling them part of “a national agenda … to replace history with lies.”

Harris did not mention Gov. Ron DeSantis by name but blasted “extreme so-called leaders” who she said wanted to push false history and propaganda in schools.

“Middle school students in Florida [may] be told that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” Harris said. “High schoolers may be taught that victims of violence of massacres were also perpetrators. …They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not happen.”

[…]

“Adults know what slavery really involved,” Harris said. “It involved rape. It involved torture. It involved taking a baby from their mother. It involved some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world. It involves subjecting people to the requirement that they would … be thought of as less than human.”

“So in the context of that, how is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” she said.

[…]

“Teachers want to teach the truth,” Harris said. “They should not then be told by politicians that they should be teaching revisionist history in order to keep their jobs. … There are many aspects of our history that some would like to overlook, erase, or at least deny.”

WBUR: VP Harris says Florida’s new Black history curriculum replaces ‘history with lies’

[Juliana Kim, 7/21/23]

Vice President Harris delivered an impassioned speech on Friday condemning Florida for its new framework for how Black history will be taught in K-12 schools, including guidelines that slavery was beneficial to enslaved people.

“It is not only misleading, it is false and pushing propaganda,” she said Friday in Jacksonville, Fla. “Pushing propaganda on our children.”

Harris also criticized Florida’s new standards for requiring high schools to teach that African Americans were perpetrators in some racially motivated massacres. She described these lessons as efforts by “extremists” to replace “history with lies.”

[…]

Arguably the most criticized change were the guidelines for middle school students, which state, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Harris called the assertion not only insulting but absurd — pointing to how slavery entailed torture, separating families and enforcing the belief that some people are less than human.

“How is it that anyone could suggest in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” she said.

Florida Times-Union: Kamala Harris on Florida’s Black history standards: ‘We will be stronger if we remember’

[Florida Times-Union Staff, 7/21/23]

VP Kamala Harris: ‘Let us fight for what is right and when we fight, we win’

“We will stand united as a country. We know our collective history. It is our shared history. We are all in this together. We know that we rise and fall together as a nation. And we will not allow them to suggest anything other than what we know the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. And so let us stand always for what we know is right. Let us fight for what is right and when we fight, we win. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”

That’s how Vice President Kamala Harris ended her 30-minute address to guests and media at Jacksonville’s Ritz Theatre Friday afternoon. You can view her speech in its entirety with the video above.

WESH 2: VP Kamala Harris visits Florida to denounce new Black history standards

[WESH 2 Staff, 7/21/23]

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Florida on Friday, where she addressed the state board of education’s approval of new Black history standards in public schools.

The approved standards have drawn controversy as they include the teaching of a perspective that some Black individuals benefited from slavery because it taught them useful skills for their “personal benefit.”

“Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” Harris said in a recent speech. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it.”

During her visit to Jacksonville, Harris discussed the importance of safeguarding fundamental freedoms, particularly the freedom to learn and teach America’s comprehensive and accurate history.

Tweets: 

@NikkiFried: Welcome back to Florida, @VP. I do wish it was for our sunshine and not because we are experiencing darkness. However, we are honored to fight in the trenches with you and @POTUS.

@TenikkaANjax: #VPinJax: @VP Harris says she’s deeply concerned about what’s happening in #Florida. VP goes on to mention #bookbans, what critics call #DontSayGay law and new Black History standards, that says slaves developed skills they could personally benefit from. @ActionNewsJax

@TenikkaANjax: .@VP Harris: “Not only is it misleading, it is false and it is pushing propaganda….it is pushing propaganda on our children.” #Florida @ActionNewsJax

@FLVoiceNews: JUST IN: Kamala Harris says “extremist” Republicans, Gov. Ron DeSantis are “trying to instill fear” in teachers against “lov[ing] who they love”

“They want to replace history with lies. Middle school students in Florida to be told that enslaved people benefited from slavery.” 

@DJJudd: In remarks from FL, VP Kamala Harris blasts new standards for teaching Black history in the state claiming slaves “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” saying it’s “not only misleading, it is false and it is pushing propaganda.”

@Victorshi2020: Damn. The righteous anger that Vice President Kamala Harris is showing right now in Florida is breathtaking & so powerful. She is going after Ron DeSantis’s racist policies like I have never seen before & it is absolutely incredible. This is leadership. Thank you, VP Harris.

@harryjsisson: Wow. VP Kamala Harris just SLAMMED Florida Republicans for trying to teach middle schoolers that African Americans benefited from slavery: 

“This is unnecessary to debate whether enslaved people benefited from slavery. Are you kidding me?”

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