Churches Rise to the Occasion – Offering Black History Education in Response to Florida’s Classroom Material Ban

Critics of Florida’s new standard with regard to how Black history can be taught in the state say the curriculum is false, misleading, and harmful. Here’s how churches are stepping into the void to provide an alternate view and set the record straight on the past 400 years.

Not How They Remembered

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At the start of the 2023 school year, teachers in Florida were suddenly faced with the stark reality that the standards for talking about Black history had changed.

You Can’t Teach That Here

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For starters, reports Danielle Prieur of WMFE in central Florida, AP African American History has been banned from schools in the state.

New Set of Standards

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That’s likely because AP courses follow a pretty standard curriculum across the nation, and the African American History course probably contains elements that don’t align with Florida’s new standards.

Don’t Make ‘Em Sweat

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According to Prieur, part of the new approach to teaching Black history is avoiding any topic that might cause students to feel “discomfort or guilt.”

Say What?

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Even more shocking to many are new slants on slavery that include the idea that Black people might have benefited from being slaves.

“Valuable Skills”

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The argument in that case goes that slaves had to learn skills that eventually helped them in the “free” world.

Not Standing Still

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But, while the new curriculum is hard to swallow for many Floridians and others across the nation, and while there are legal battles brewing, another group of observers has taken a different approach in this new environment.

Setting the Record Straight

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In particular, a growing number of churches throughout the Sunshine State have taken it upon themselves to help set the record straight.

Midweek Drop-In

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One recent night in the middle of the week, for example, Prieur dropped in on the Agape Perfecting Praise and Worship Center in Orlando.

Mastering History

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There, the reporter found about 100 parishioners ready to dive into the first session of the church’s new offering, the African American History Masterclass.

They Stepped Up to the Challenge

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As pastor Sharon Riley led the gathering in a short prayer, she set the stage for why the church was taking up the mantle of teaching Black history.

Scrubbing History Clean

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Riley explained that the ancestors of todays African Americans endured 246 years of “being beaten, being raped, being degraded in America.” And now, Florida wanted to wash much of that from the curriculum.

Spreading the Truth Through the Word

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So the church brought in LaVon Bracy from a group called Faith in Florida. They have developed a history toolkit to help churches spread the truth about Black history.

Everyone Needs to Know the Truth

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As Bracy puts it, part of her mission is to make sure the truth about America’s history stays front and center so that new generations can learn from the mistakes of the past.

Total Dedication

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For her part, Riley has pledged to devote one Wednesday a month to teaching Black history. She’s not alone in that mission, either.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

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Faith in Florida reports that more than 300 churches have already signed up to teach Black history to their congregations using the new toolkit.

It’ What They Do

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Riley says that the only change for churches is not that they’re teaching people, but what they’re teaching. “We teach people how to live their lives,” she said. “It’s what we do.”

The post Churches Rise to the Occasion – Offering Black History Education in Response to Florida’s Classroom Material Ban first appeared on Pulse of Pride

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Hurghea Constantin. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

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