Republican Byron Donalds Declines NABJ Invitation To Discuss Florida’s Attack On Black History
Black Florida Republican Congressman Byron Donalds recently missed an opportunity to share his thoughts about the controversial elimination of Black history lessons in Florida schools. He was invited to speak on a panel at the 2023 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) centered around Black history and featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.
The discussion was scheduled for Friday, Aug. 4. It was promoted as an opportunity for Donalds to answer questions about the recent attacks from Florida lawmakers on critical race theory and Black history lessons being taught in schools. But the legislator failed to show, citing a “scheduling conflict.”
Despite agreeing with many far-right conservative views, Donalds has openly criticized recent decisions by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican, to further restrict critical parts of the Black American experience from being taught to school-aged children.
For his part, Donalds has publicly decried attempts to paint slavery as beneficial for Black enslaved people.
“The attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted,” Donalds stated on social media. “That obviously wasn’t the goal & I have faith that FLDOE will correct this.”
However, the 44-year-old congressman helped to write and pass much of the legislation critiqued by Democrats and educators. The adjusted curriculum the lawmaker has supported often highlights African enslavers while downplaying the atrocities inflicted upon the enslaved during chattel slavery by white supremacist figures.
According to The Black Wall Street Times, NABJ’s goal was to have Donalds answer for the harmful legislation he and other Republicans openly support. His absence indicated that the far-right has no interest in accountability, said some.
“They say they want to debate, but they don’t want to debate the people who actually have facts and knowledge,” Hannah-Jones, author of The 1619 Project and Knight Chair of Race and Journalism at Howard University, said in response to Donalds’ sudden cancelation.
“If you believe that Black suffering is because we have a 400-year system” of racism, “then you’re gonna pass policy that’s structural, and why would people in power want any type of structural change?” she said.