DeSantis blocks an African American course – and reveals his true colors

By David G. Wilkins, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Jan 25, 2023.

I appreciate the clarity that Gov. Ron DeSantis has demonstrated in his recent decisions.

For example, DeSantis’ appointment of conservatives to New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees clarified his intention to remake the public, liberal Honors College into a conservative, Christian school, in the mold of Hillsdale College.

Christopher Rufo, one of the new board members, said DeSantis is “going to lay siege” to diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Florida’s colleges and universities. As a result, New College of Florida will be transformed and diversity, equity and inclusion programs in general will cease to exist.

Blocking an African American course

DeSantis’s latest decision to block the new AP African American History course is also clarifying. His spokesman said the Advanced Placement course violated state law and “lacked educational value.”

These statements were not accompanied by any further explanation, but none was needed.

DeSantis has no issues with the study of history and culture when the subject is Europe, China or Japan; after all, nine of 30 current AP courses have such a focus. Yet an AP course that is focused on African American history and culture is not only deemed unworthy by DeSantis, but illegal as well.

That’s clarity.

Proponents of HB7 argue that DeSantis isn’t opposed to teaching African American history. They insist the governor is only opposed to the perspective presented by The 1619 Project because he believes it presents a distorted view of our history.

Those proponents also maintain that the opposition DeSantis has expressed to critical race theory, commonly referred to as CRT, isn’t a rejection of the teaching of African American history – it is merely a rejection of the notion that America is systemically racist.

So what do the proponents of HB7 say now that DeSantis has explicitly opposed adding an AP African American history course? We can only surmise that we have a governor who has no issue with AP European or AP Chinese history. But AP African American history? It is unworthy and illegal.

DeSantis has certainly given us clarity on how he feels about African American history. But have we also been given a greater sense of clarity on the true character of this governor who wants to be president?

David G. Wilkins is president of the Manasota ASALH – The Association for the Study of African American Life and History.