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Florida senator proposes bill to eliminate references to slavery benefits in Black history courses

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In response to the recent controversy surrounding African American history standards in public schools, Senator Shevrin Jones, a Democrat from Miami Gardens, has introduced a proposal aimed at preventing the inclusion of any instruction suggesting that enslaved people benefited from slavery in any way.

The bill (SB 344), is slated for consideration during the upcoming 2024 legislative session, which commences in January.

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The proposed legislation states that “The instruction required under this paragraph (of law) and state academic standards may not indicate or imply that an enslaved person benefited from slavery or the enslavement experience in any way.”

This bill was filed as a direct response to a controversial aspect of the African-American history standards that were approved by the State Board of Education in July.

The standards have caused significant backlash primarily due to a provision mandating middle-school instruction to cover “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Critics argued the standards only tell half of the story because parts of that same law limit how race can be discussed in the classroom.

READ: Florida Board of Education adopts new African American history standards amid criticism

That portion of Florida’s new African-American history standards had been at the heart of criticism lobbed by groups like the Florida Education Association, the NAACP, and even the Vice President.

This is the second controversy following the state’s handling of African American history, with a comparison drawn with the Advanced Placement African American studies course being rejected by Florida earlier this year.

These standards received staunch support from state education officials, including Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., who defended them during the July board meeting.

Diaz said during the meeting that the guidelines “go into some of the tougher subjects, all the way into the beginnings of the slave trade, Jim Crow laws, the civil-rights movement and everything that occurred throughout our history.”

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William Clayton

William Clayton, Action News Jax

Digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax

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