ATLANTA — Dr. Bernice King, the CEO of Atlanta's King Center and the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. stepped into the debate Monday over Florida's decision to block an AP African American Studies course from being taught in that state's schools.
"No amount of propaganda, fear-mongering around wokeness or political aspirations can cause us to unlearn," the history of oppression of Black people in the U.S., she wrote. "Florida would prefer its students not learn about our nation's well-documented history of genocide, slavery, discrimination and oppression imposed upon Black people - those who arrived at the US border and shores involuntarily, marking a 244-year era of unmitigated dehumanization, persecution, torture and murder."
The statement from King came after Florida education officials last week wrote to the College Board, which oversees AP classes, to object to the African American Studies course.
Florida education officials did not specify exactly what content the state found objectionable but said, “As presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
“In the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, (the education department) will always be willing to reopen the discussion," the letter continued.
King, in her statement, called on the College Board to "lay bare the curriculum here and challenge Florida to explain exactly what they deem inappropriate in the course and why they, as political appointees have the expertise to determine what African American Studies is all about."
"The time is now. The children are waiting for you to step up, stop the propaganda and disinformation and show them how you will stand for justice and truth," King wrote.
The College Board website describes the course as interdisciplinary, touching on literature, arts, humanities, political science, geography and science. The pilot program is debuting at 60 schools across the country before it expands to additional schools. The organization has been working on constructing the course for more than a decade, according to its website.
DeSantis, a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, has opposed what he calls liberal ideologies in schools, including lessons around critical race theory, which examines systemic racism and has become a frequent target of conservatives.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has taken a similar stance, and last year the Georgia General Assembly passed a law banning "divisive concepts" in classrooms.
Florida last year passed legislation dubbed the Stop WOKE Act that restricts certain race-based conversations and analysis in schools and businesses. The law bars instruction that says members of one race are inherently racist or should feel guilt for past actions committed by others of the same race, among other things.
"The King Center stands ready to facilitate a win-win outcome to the conflict around the AP African American Studies Course," King's statement said. "It's been nearly forty nears since my father's birthday became a national holiday. Let's not wait any longer to offer Florida students and their peers nationwide a course t hat should have been available to them decades ago."