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"We're still going to fight" - Tallahassee leaders call for African American history to be taught in schools

They're sending a message to leaders in education across the state of Florida.
Posted at 6:11 PM, Aug 10, 2023
  • AP African American history will not be taught in Florida K-12 schools. PragerU, is taking its place.
  • Community leaders are calling for the removal of PragerU; saying it describes African Americans benefiting from slavery and it waters down history.
  • They're holding a town hall for students and educators on August 26th.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Taking a stand for education!

Community leaders stepped up the fight to keep African American history in K-12 education. They're sending a message to leaders in education across the state of Florida.

Cassie Branch's oldest child is taking two Advanced Placement courses at Florida State University School this year, including AP Psychology.

"It was very frustrating to have to see that our schools had to deal with that when they're dealing with so many other things and my kids are fixing to start school," said Branch.

She's talking about the Florida Department of Education's decision to allow school districts across the state to teach the College Board course in its entirety just days before the new school year started. Department of Education is not discouraging districts from teaching AP Psychology. Leaders recommend the course be taught in its entirety in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate.

Branch isn't the only one upset with what AP courses are allowed in classrooms this year.

"Two days for some backlash and it was back in place in full and we've been fussing and arguing and fighting for AP Black History for five or six months now and it's just ignored," said Mutaqee Akbar.

President of the Tallahassee Chapter of the NAACP Mutaqee Akbar is joining other community leaders to fight for AP African American history to be kept in K-12 education.

The Florida Department of Education had the course removed earlier this year because quote, "the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value." Last year, the governor signed legislation dubbed the Stop Woke Act that restricts certain race-based conversations and analysis in schools and businesses.

Now, curriculum from PragerU is taking its place in classrooms. That's a conservative media company that describes itself as offering a "free alternative to the dominant left wing ideology in culture, media and education."

However, Akbar said the new curriculum is telling students black people benefited from slavery and isn't telling the whole truth about major civil rights events.

"It shows our strength. It shows our endurance. It shows that we're not victims but that we're people that overcome something tremendous and by watering it down, saying we benefited, not showing the true atrocities, is miseducating our children," said Akbar.

"As a teacher for 28 years, I used to do black history programs in my school at Florida High," said Dot Inman-Johnson.

She's concerned that students now won't have the same knowledge and understanding of black history as previous years.

"They cannot appreciate what black people in this country went through unless they know the full history," said Inman-Johnson.

Akbar and other community leader's are working to make that happen.

"We want to let the students know that we're still going to fight for the proper education when it comes down to black history," said Akbar.

Whether its race, sexual orientation or gender identity, Branch believes having these discussions are important.

"It's college level material," said Branch. "They should be mature enough to have those conversations and we need to learn about others to have tolerance and understanding and empathy."

Akbar is inviting students and educators from across the district to a town hall to talk about some of the issues they're experiencing in the classroom. That's taking place on August 26th at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.