Governors threat to cut funding for Black studies doesn’t deter Floridians from Black history month celebrations
(Tampa, Fl)–Despite a cryptic promise from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to all but eliminate funding for diverse studies in schools, many students of color in the sunshine state continue to espouse the preeminent message of Black Power, and Black is beautiful during Black History Month.
At the University of South Florida in Tampa, a weeklong event colorfully dubbed Black Out Week kicked off last week on the main campus. The university chapter of the NAACP hosted it. A series of speeches, films, and off-campus events, including a collard green festival, are scheduled across the city throughout the month.
The feeling of cohesiveness and unity is especially prevalent throughout the state as DeSantis, a likely candidate for the 2024 presidency, announced he would reject an Advanced Placement course on African American studies for all Florida high school students, claiming that it “lacks educational value” and violates state law. DeSantis is also a critic and detractor of critical race theory (CRT).In its simplest definition, Critical Race Theory is an intellectual and social movement by civil rights scholars and others to closely examine the good, bad, and ugly of society and law in the United States. Conservative critics like DeSantis and others contend teaching such information in public classrooms is unnecessary and promotes a negative image of the country. In other words, teach good history and ignore bad history.
Contrarily, in New Jersey, around the same time DeSantis was on a mission to diminish and defund diversity, New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy expanded the Advanced Placement African American Studies courses from one school to 26 throughout the Garden State. Murphy cited DeSantis and Florida in a statement announcing the legislation. “New Jersey will proudly teach our kids that Black History is American history. While the DeSatis Administration stated that AP African American Studies lacks educational values, New Jersey will continue teaching our full history.”
In Tampa, some Floridians said the move by DeSantis to eliminate Afro-American studies is an attempt to destroy Black Hi. “We learn from the past and shouldn’t attempt to ignore and not teach it to future generations,” said Johnny Banks, an African American entrepreneur in Tampa. And Calandra Peterkin, a student at USF, said Black History Month brings Black students and allies together. “It’s something that is especially important to us now during this time when the teaching of Black history is in jeopardy.”