Black leaders in Miami apologized to Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis after one of its members called him a racist.
Pierre Rutledge, chair of the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board, issued a statement on behalf of his board that apologized to DeSantis for a comment made at their Wednesday meeting from a member who said, “Our governor is racist.”
“We take it to heart when someone uses the term racist,” Rutledge said Friday. “Words matter. And so as chair, I must start by saying we want to pull that back. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘we’re sorry.’ That’s not what we intended to say or be depicted by anyone. And that’s not the feeling of this board.”
The accusations of racism against DeSantis came as the board criticized the governor’s rejection of an African-American history Advanced Placement course due to content about Black Lives Matter and queer issues. The College Board removed aspects of the course Wednesday that were opposed by DeSantis, and the course will be reevaluated by the Florida Department of Education to determine if it is appropriate for schools.
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DeSantis continued to back the decision from his Department of Education to remove the African-American history course, which he said pushes a political agenda.
“This course on Black history, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory,” DeSantis said. “Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda.”
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DeSantis has taken a series of actions as governor to limit critical race theory and queer theories from being taught in public schools. The issue gained national attention when he signed the Parental Rights in Education bill, which banned lessons on gender identity in third grade and below.
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Black leaders and Democrats in Florida have pledged to defend the course and keep it in schools. Protesters will rally on Feb. 16 at the state capitol in Tallahassee.
“Black history matters,” said the Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, in an announcement of the rally. “Black history is not inferior. And Black history does not lack educational value.”