February 5, 2023

Famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump will announce his intention to file a lawsuit Wednesday against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for rejecting a pilot program for advanced African American studies.

Crump is expected to announce the lawsuit during a press conference at the Florida Capitol, where he will be joined by senior officials from the American Federation of Teachers, politicians including South Florida State Senator Shevrin Jones, and three AP honor students who will lead the charge , is accompanied plaintiff.

DeSantis on Monday reiterated the state’s rejection of the proposed course, saying he was pushing a political agenda — something three writers cited in the state’s critique accused him of doing in return.

DeSantis said his administration rejected the college board’s course because “we want education, not indoctrination.” It was revealed last week that the Florida Department of Education recently told the College Board it would suspend the course if changes are not made.

The state then issued a chart late Friday saying the course, promoting the idea that modern American society oppresses blacks, other minorities and women, includes a chapter on “Black Queer Studies,” which the government feels is inappropriate , and articles used by critics of capitalism .

The governor said the course violates legislation known as the Stop WOKE Act, which he signed into law last year. It prohibits statements that define people as necessarily oppressed or privileged because of their race. At least some authors cited by the course believe that modern US society supports white supremacy while oppressing racial minorities, gay men and women.

“This black history course, what is one of the lessons about? Strange theory. Now, who would say that an important part of black history is queer theory? That’s someone pushing an agenda,” said DeSantis, a possible Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

Fentrice Driskell, Democratic leader of the Florida House, called the government’s rejection of the course “cowardly” and said it “sends a clear message that the history of black Americans in Florida doesn’t count.”

“Imagine how boring and narrow-minded we all would be if we just hit ideas that we agree with,” she said Monday.

After a decade of development, the College Board is testing the African American Studies program in 60 high schools across the country. No school or state would have to offer it after its planned introduction.

The organization offers AP courses across the academic spectrum, including math, science, social studies, foreign languages, and fine arts. College-level students who do well enough on the course’s final exam usually receive course credits at their university.

The College Board has not responded to emails and calls since Friday. It issued a statement last week saying it encourages feedback and will consider changes.

The state criticized five living authors in its Friday chart. The Associated Press emailed them and three responded.

— The section on “Black Queer Studies” includes readings by Roderick Ferguson, a professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Yale University. The state says it “proclaims, ‘We must promote and develop practices where queerness is not a surrender to the status quo of race, class, gender and sexuality.'”

Ferguson said this quote came from an interview he did about his book One-Dimensional Queer. The book, he said, is a discussion of “discrimination in the workplace, laws against LGBTQ+ people, the repression of progressive movements in the US, police violence against minority communities, immigration restrictions (and) anti-Black racism.”

“Those are true stories. The arguments about this are based on scholarly inquiry and research — as are the arguments of the other scholars on this list,” Ferguson said. “Unfortunately, we are at a moment when right-wing forces are mobilizing to suppress free discussion of these realities. If we need an example of this mobilization, we could probably just turn to the forces that have come together to oppose this course.”

– The state is asking the course to include “Black Study, Black Struggle,” a 2016 play by UCLA history professor Robin DG Kelley, saying it “argues that activism, not the university system, is the catalyst for social transformation.” “. Kelley called this description oversimplified.

His play calls on student activists to take their efforts beyond campus and denounces racism, inequality, capitalism, militarism and police brutality. But he also said activists must love everyone, “even those who may have once been our oppressors,” and read and understand Western literature if they want to criticize it.

He said one point is “that we shouldn’t place so much emphasis on trauma and victimization, but rather understand how, despite the violence, we’re not just for Black people, but for the whole nation (yes, including white people struggling) for.” have fought justice and oppression we have experienced.”

The state also notes that Kelley wrote the 1990 book Hammer and Hoe, a history of communism in Alabama during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“It’s won several awards and accolades, including from some conservative anti-Communist historians, because it’s based on thorough research — something the DeSantis folks aren’t familiar with,” Kelley said.

– The state criticized the inclusion of a section on “Movement for Black Lives,” a coalition of more than 50 groups including Black Lives Matter and the National Conference of Black Lawyers. It is said that the group wants to abolish prisons and that there is a “war” on gay and trans black people.

The state is criticizing the section’s inclusion of a reading by Leslie Kay Jones, an assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers University. It quotes her as saying, “Black people produce an unquantifiable amount of content for the same social media companies that reproduce the white racist superstructure that oppresses us.”

Jones said she found no evidence that the Movement for Black Lives ever campaigned for prison abolition. She is surprised that DeSantis employees attacked her for criticizing social media companies since he does the same.

Because of this, students should be able to “form their own conclusions by evaluating primary and secondary texts,” she said.

“Is Ron DeSantis arguing that Florida students are incapable of forming their own opinions?” she said.

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