FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Feldman Strategies, firstname.lastname@example.org
Equal Ground & Black Florida Advocates Demand African American History Task Force Do Their Job in Face of Unqualified New Members
TALLAHASSEE – Equal Ground and other leading Florida advocates, including Florida Rising and Florida Immigration Coalition Votes, are coming together to demand that Florida’s African American History Task Force (AAHTF) maintain their mission in the face of ongoing attacks and new unqualified members.
The AAHTF recently added new task force members, who were not nominated by current members and four of which have never been a school board member or worked for a school district. In their first meeting this month, all newly appointed members voted to postpone African American History training for nearly 300 Florida teachers.
"The recruitment of new members to the Florida African American History Task Force is just another attack on Black Floridians; it's not an opportunity for advancement or the preservation of our history,” said Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of Equal Ground. “Each member of the commission was privately selected by the Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr as pawns to uphold the mission of Governor DeSantis by helping to erase the contributions and significance of African American History. They accepted the roles in order to advance their own career ambitions, not to ensure Florida educators had all the best tools and resources available to educate Florida students about African American History. We must remind this new task force of their mission and reject any efforts to censor the truth and full spectrum of African American History."
On the heels of the postponement, Equal Ground has launched a new petition mobilizing Floridians to directly call on AAHTF members to rise above targeted attacks on Black History, diversity, and inclusion from Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration.
"Don't let the hue of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr.'s recent appointments to the African-American History Task Force fool you. These people are only there to do DeSantis' dirty work,” added Sen. Dwight Bullard, senior political advisor to Florida Rising. “Florida has a plethora of dynamic educators, current and retired. Four Historically Black Universities and a number of Black Studies programs at our State Colleges and other universities. I say this, because if Florida were serious about the matter, we have a multitude of resources. The (DeSantis) administration's goal is to stifle the teaching of African-American History."
The African American History Task Force (AAHTF) was created following the passage of a Florida law requiring the instruction of history, culture, experiences, and contributions of African Americans in the state’s K-12 curriculum. The task force was formulated to sustain this effort and support the legislative intent of the law. And their role has never been more important given the constant attacks on Black History in Florida, but Floridians are concerned they will cower to the Governor.
"Confronting the painful chapters of our history head-on is of utmost importance. In Florida the existence of sundown towns such as Clearwater, Largo, and Ridgecrest is rarely taught. While acknowledging these uncomfortable and distressing lessons we must remember that they are a stark reminder of the systemic racism and profound oppression endured by the Black community throughout history,” said David Metellus with Florida Immigration Coalition Votes. “Unfortunately, the newly appointed members, particularly Rep. Berny Jacques, seem to be serving as mouthpieces for those who seek to whitewash history. It is disheartening to see someone like Rep. Jacques, who is of Haitian-American descent, willingly embrace a role as a model minority, further perpetuating the ideals of a group disconnected from the realities of racism. I would advise that this group takes the opportunity to educate themselves on African-American history in this country before offering guidance or advice to anyone."