The Stop WOKE Act: Black History Education in Florida

Contributor II

It is no secret that US history textbooks often gloss over the horrors of slavery, and how black people were treated as less than human. However, the recent change in Florida education on black history has made the entire situation drastically worse. 


The new Florida standards will now have public schools teaching students that some Black people benefited from slavery, as it taught them useful skills that they could use later in life. Additionally, a 216-page document on the teaching standards emphasizes the fact that there needs to be instruction on how Black people were also perpetrators of violence during race massacres. This change has faced severe backlash from people across the United States, as well as several different teacher’s unions within Florida, who have all stated that this is a step backward and is doing a disservice to Florida students. 


These standards are not only rewriting our history but omitting key facts of American history, solely for the reason of painting our society in a better light. Teaching children about the political figures that helped take down slavery but conveniently leaving out anyone that worked to keep slavery legal is only half of the story. This paints our history in a much more positive light, and leaves students to connect the dots on their own. The notion that enslaved people actually benefitted from being enslaved is an incredibly dangerous ideal to be teaching our future generations. 


This effort is being spearheaded by Governor Ron DeSantis, the current Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential election. Last year, he signed the “Stop WOKE Act” (Stop Wrongs To Our Kids and Employees Act), prohibiting any instruction that could make students feel they bear personal responsibility, guilt, or “other forms of psychological distress” for actions in the past committed by members of their own race. Despite all the criticism being hurled at him for these new standards, he remains solid in his resolve to defend them. 


Vice President Kamala Haris has also been heavily expressing her severe disapproval of these new standards, and has now received an invitation from Governor DeSantis to discuss this new curriculum. However, the vice president rejected the invitation, saying that “there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”


They say that history is doomed to repeat itself, and if these standards are upheld, we may be closer to that future than we think.


Contributor III

As a student in Florida, it's terrifying to hear that the younger generation around me may hear propagandized and sensationalized versions of slavery. The implications that this sort of legislation has is thousands of steps in the backward direction.