Harris rejects DeSantis' offer to discuss Florida's black history curriculum
"There were no redeeming qualities of slavery," Harris said.
Vice President Kamala Harris has rejected an offer from Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss the state's new African American history teaching standards.
"Right here in Florida, they plan to teach students that enslaved people benefited from slavery," Harris said Tuesday in Orlando at the African Methodist Episcopal Women’s Missionary Convention, according to the White House.
"And now they attempt to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that most recently came in of a politically motivated roundtable," she also said. "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."
DeSantis, also a 2024 presidential candidate, invited Harris on Monday to join him in Tallahassee to discuss the state's African American history standards.
He said Dr. William Allen, a black scholar and former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who helped develop the new standards, would join. DeSantis also wrote that Harris is welcome to bring American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten "or someone else who shares your view about the standards" to the meeting, which he said could be held as soon as Wednesday.
Republicans and Democrats have criticized the curriculum, particularly a section stating that "slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."
"There is no silver lining in slavery," said Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., a black man competing against DeSantis for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. "Slavery was really about separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating."
Other prominent black Republicans such as Reps. Byron Donalds, of Florida; John James, of Michigan; and Wesley Hunt, of Texas, have also criticized the curriculum.
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump, criticized DeSantis' invitation to Harris. He posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: "Imagine being desperate enough to be thirsty for a Kamala visit."