William B. Allen, Author of Florida’s Controversial Slavery Curriculum, Responds to Criticism

William B. Allen, Author of Florida’s Controversial Slavery Curriculum, Responds to Criticism

Florida lawmakers and conservative Florida political adviser Dr. William B. Allen have drawn the ire of Vice President Kamala Harris following their latest legislation on how slavery is taught in classrooms. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s legislators have been under fire over the past year after implementing some of the country’s most restrictive laws regarding LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and school curricula. Their latest attack is on teaching slavery in schools. 

Florida’s 2023 State Academic Standards for Social Studies outlines new changes in how slavery, the Holocaust, and other historical events will be taught. While the expansive list features many documented truths, including the Underground Railroad and the horrific working conditions of the enslaved, tucked into the packet is a “benchmark clarification” about how slaves “developed skills” which could be “applied for their personal benefit.” Aimed toward sixth through eighth graders, this new standard will now be included in the Social Studies African American curriculum in schools across the state.  

Vice President Harris denounced this decision in a speech during the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority national convention in Indiana on July 20. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us and we will not stand for it. We who share a collective experience in knowing we must honor history in our duty in the context of legacy. There is so much at stake in this moment,” she said. Harris also took to Twitter to express her anger. 

Gov. DeSantis, who has been busy on the campaign trail ahead of the 2024 presidential election, pushed back against Harris’s criticism on Twitter, using her statements to condemn the LGBTQ+ community again. 

Dr. William B. Allen, who co-authored the pamphlet, defended himself during a sit-down with Local 10 News. “We need to tell the people’s stories the way they told their stories, not to fit our expectations,” said the conservative. He continued, “The stories of the people who lived through the history, they have a right to tell the story in their own words, and what we have provided for is the telling of those stories as they told it.”  

Allen is the former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and is currently a member of Florida’s African American History Standards Workgroup, which, according to the Florida Times-Union, is the group that approved the standards for the curriculum.

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