Despite DeSantis’ ban on black history lessons, Black churches in Florida are stepping up to ensure that their congregations continue to receive comprehensive and unfiltered lessons about Black history. Here’s the full story.
Teach About Black History
Over 200 predominantly Black churches in the state are taking proactive measures to educate their communities about the rich and complex history of Black Americans.
Black History Toolkit
The catalyst for this initiative is a set of resources known as the Black History toolkit, created by Faith in Florida, a coalition of churches dedicated to advocating for social justice causes.
What It Includes
The toolkit, launched in July, comprises books, documentaries, videos, and other materials that delve into various aspects of Black history.
Counteract the State’s Efforts
It aims to counteract the state’s efforts to regulate and, in some cases, restrict the teaching of Black history in public schools.
Restricting Aspects of Black History Education
Florida is one of several states where conservative lawmakers have initiated movements to restrict certain aspects of Black history education.
Diversity and Inclusion Programs Prohibition
Earlier in the year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that prohibited the use of state funds to support diversity and inclusion programs at public universities.
Additionally, the state banned the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course, which had been available to high school students, often providing them with college credit.
State officials argued that African American history was already taught in schools but took issue with some of the course material, including topics related to the Black Lives Matter movement, Black feminism, and reparations.
Church Has Always Provided Educational Opportunities
While these churches have long played a role in providing educational opportunities to their communities, the toolkit has provided them with a structured resource to deliver more comprehensive lessons.
The toolkit covers a range of topics, including “Africa to America,” which examines the slave trade, and “Racial Terrorism and Civil Unrest,” which delves into the Civil Rights Movement.
Bible Study Sessions
Pastors are using the toolkit as a guide to create lesson plans that can be integrated into various aspects of their ministries, from Sunday school and Bible study sessions to sermons.
Make Sure History Is Not Erased
Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida said, “We have a responsibility as a whole to make sure our history is not erased or watered down and that it be told. It happened. It’s history.”
It’s Not Farfetched
“It’s not farfetched to think that a (Black) church is going to be able to provide educational opportunities where they see public institutions failing,’’ Howard Robinson, a historian at Alabama State University in Montgomery, said.
“True History Should Be Taught”
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the incident. One user wrote, “TRUE history should be taught. I don’t care if it’s in the school or in the church, though it seems legit to have it in BOTH places.”
Suppression Will Never Work
Another user added, “Good for them, I can support what is right. And I will damn what’s wrong. Suppression will never work.”
A third user commented, “When the government tries to determine what is taught by -falsely- denying the recorded historical truth; then, that is a form of political indoctrination!”
“They Are Trying to Hide the Cold Hard Nasty Truth”
A fourth user wrote, “It is so very simple. When someone tries to hide or water down history, they are trying to hide the cold hard nasty truth.”
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