Civil Rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton traveled to Tallahassee, Florida on Wednesday afternoon to protest what he called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attempts to 'bring the state back to the pre-Civil Rights era by banning Black history from the classroom' after the administration rejected a version of the College Board's high school Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course.
Sharpton and a group of students, parents, civil-rights leaders and elected officials gathered at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. and marched to the Old Florida State Capitol to protest DeSantis' recent action to require revisions to the high school AP African American Studies course.
Sharpton was joined by the president of the Tallahassee chapter of the National Action Network Rev. RB Holmes to protest DeSantis' actions.
'Governor DeSantis is trying to turn February into Erase Black History Month,' Sharpton said in a statement. 'Banning these courses is in Chapter One of the playbook for disenfranchising Black Americans. We'll be in Tallahassee next week to take a stand against the governor's actions and those willing to buckle to his pressure, because our stories and struggles must be told.'
Tensions hit new heights last month between the DeSantis administration and the College Board after the state objected to several topics that were proposed for inclusion in an AP African American studies course that was being developed.
In a statement on Saturday, the College Board expressed their regret at not pushing back against the DeSantis administration.
'We deeply regret not immediately denouncing the Florida Department of Education’s slander, magnified by the DeSantis administration’s subsequent comments, that African American Studies ‘lacks educational value.’ Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field,' the statement said.
The Florida Department of Education sent a letter to the College Board citing topics that were initially planned for the course, including 'Black queer studies' and the 'reparations movement,' and essentially said that the state would not offer the course unless changes were made.
'In the state of Florida, our education standards not only don’t prevent, but they require teaching black history, all of the important things, that’s part of our core curriculum,' DeSantis said. 'This course on Black history. What are one of, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory? Now who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids, and so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda.'
The Republican Governor's comments came after White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the move by Florida to not permit the courses on Black history 'incomprehensible.'
'It is incomprehensible to see that this is what this ban — or this block, to be more specific — that DeSantis has put forward,' Jean-Pierre said in a press conference. 'If you think about the study of Black Americans, that is what he wants to block and, again, these types of actions aren’t new, especially from what we’re seeing from Florida, sadly.'
'And let's not forget: They didn't ban ... they didn't block AP European history,' Jean-Pierre added. 'They didn't block music history. They didn't block our art history. But the state chooses to block a course that is meant for high-achieving high school students to learn about their history of arts and culture.'
Manny Diaz Jr., Florida’s education commissioner, in a statement last week pushed back on the White House's comments stating that Florida will 'not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.'
'Despite the lies from the Biden White House, Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law,' Diaz stated. 'We proudly require the teaching of African American history. We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.'
Sen. Shevrin Jones, the first openly gay and Black Florida state senator, also joined the discussion, slamming DeSantis' stance.
'Imagine this, the Gov. is willing to sink the entire ship, denying students of educational access, all for what? ‘Wokeness,’ which is really anti-Blackness, racism, and the epitome of TRUE indoctrination,' Jones wrote in a Twitter post.
Florida Representative Maxwell Frost, the first Generation Z candidate elected to Congress, also spoke out against DeSantis' decision to reject the Collega Board's AP course on Black history.
'Ron DeSantis wants to pretend that Black history isn't American History. Leaders like him are the reason why Florida has seen a huge surge in hate crimes and acts of racism over the last two years,' Frost tweeted.
Al Sharpton and Ron DeSantis' administration did not immediately reply to Fox News Digital.