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Here is the Black History Actually Being Taught in Florida Schools

With all the heated political rhetoric about education in Florida and African American history, this is a summary of the Black history actually being taught in schools around the Sunshine state. Despite the attacks on Republican Governor Ron DeSantis after his actions regarding an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course, Black history has not been “erased” in Florida and it makes sense to know what is really happening in the state outside of the political attacks for a more honest starting point in the debate.

The following is required instruction on the history of African Americans in Florida statute, according to the Florida Department of Education:




Black history Florida African AmericanIn fact, Governor DeSantis points out that under his administration, instruction on African American history has actually expanded. The Governor signed legislation that ensured that Florida’s students learn about the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots in addition to requiring instruction on slavery, the Civil War, and Jim Crow laws. Additionally, here is other required instruction on the history of African Americans in Florida statute:

  • The following is in the required instruction statute, s. 1003.42(2)(f), F.S.
    • The history of the United States, including the period of discovery, early colonies, the War for Independence, the Civil War, the expansion of the United States to its present boundaries, the world wars, and the civil rights movement to the present. American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.
  • The following is in the required instruction statute, s. 1003.42(2)(h), F.S.
    • The history of African Americans, including:
      • the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery;
      • the passage to America;
      • the enslavement experience;
      • abolition; and
      • the history and contributions of Americans of the African diaspora to society.
  • Students shall develop an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping on individual freedoms, and examine what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purpose of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions.
  • Instructional shall include the roles and contributions of individuals from all walks of life and their endeavors to learn and thrive throughout history as artists, scientists, educators, businesspeople, influential thinkers, members of the faith community, and political and government leaders and the courageous steps they took to fulfill the promise of democracy and unite the nation.
  • Instructional materials shall include the vital contributions of African Americans to build and strengthen American society and celebrate the inspirational stories of African Americans who prospered, even in the most difficult circumstances.
  • Instructional personnel may facilitate discussions and use curricula to address, in an age-appropriate manner, how the individual freedoms of persons have been infringed by slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination, as well as topics relating to the enactment and enforcement of laws resulting in racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination and how recognition of these freedoms has overturned these unjust laws.
  • However, classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles enumerated in subsection (3) or the state academic standards.
  • The department shall prepare and offer standards and curriculum for the instruction required by this paragraph and may seek input from the Commissioner of Education’s African American History Task Force.
  • The following is in the required instruction statute, s. 1003.42(3), F.S.
  • The Legislature acknowledges the fundamental truth that all persons are equal before the law and have inalienable rights. Accordingly, instruction and supporting materials on the topics enumerated in this section must be consistent with the following principles of individual freedom:
    • No person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.
    • No race is inherently superior to another race.
    • No person should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.
    • Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are not racist but fundamental to the right to pursue happiness and be rewarded for industry.
    • A person, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
    • A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • Instructional personnel may facilitate discussions and use curricula to address, in an age-appropriate manner, how the freedoms of persons have been infringed by sexism, slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination, including topics related to the enactment and enforcement of laws resulting in sexism, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination, including how recognition of these freedoms have overturned these unjust laws. However, classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles of this subsection or state academic standards.
  • The following is in the required instruction statute, s. 1003.42(4), F.S.
    • The State board of Education shall develop or adopt a curriculum to inspire future generations through motivating stories of American history that demonstrate important life skills and the principles of individual freedom that enabled persons to prosper even in the most difficult circumstances. This curriculum shall be known as “Stories of Inspiration” and made available to schools to implement the requirements of subsection (3).
  • HB 1213 from 2020 required the Commissioner’s African American History Task Force to examine ways to include the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots (massacre) in the required instruction on African American History.
  • The Task Force issued their recommendation report on March 1, 2021.
  • The following courses can be found in the Florida Course Code Directory:
    • Course #2104310 – Examining the African American Experience in the 20th Century
    • Course #2100340 – African-American History
    • Course #2100335 – African American History
    • Course 2100336 – African-American History Honors
    • Course #2109330 – African History
    • Course #2100365 – African History Honors

The following chart shows current social studies standards on this topic: Social Studies Standards

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