Kamala Harris Encourages Floridians Against Ron DeSantis Over Claims Slavery Had Benefits

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During a gathering held this week in Orlando, Florida, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke against new educational standards developed and pushed in the state under which middle school students would be taught of purported benefits (in the form of actionable skills) to individuals who suffered through slavery in the U.S.

This new framework has been criticized even by some in the Republican Party, where Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has staked his political claim. DeSantis, though, has been consistent in his support. Experts on the state team behind the new standards also spoke publicly in support of the updated approach, citing a list of people as purported examples including individuals who historical records didn’t indicate were enslaved or who developed their well-known skills once freed.

The remarks from the vice president in Orlando were from actually the second time she’s spoken in the state against these latest actions from education authorities there, a controversy that’s also led to calls for the resignation of the current Commissioner of Education in the state.

“Right here in Florida, they plan to teach students that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” Harris remarked Tuesday. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates. And now they attempt to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that most recently came in of a politically motivated roundtable. Well, I’m here in Florida. And I will tell you, there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”

Harris has also previously expressed concerns about potentially debilitating impacts from the imposition of these new educational standards on the ability of students going through Florida’s school system to effectively function in the world at large. Inside the Republican Party, those criticizing DeSantis have included Rep. John James (Mich.), a prominent Black member of the party. There “are only five black Republicans in Congress and you’re attacking two of them,” James said. DeSantis has been campaigning for the Republican Party’s nomination for president for 2024, though polling has shown a calamitous drop in Republicans’ support for his bid.