Late last month, representatives from the NAACP and the community gathered to discuss how to respond to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ claim that “slaves benefited from slavery” and how to fight the state’s new African American history curriculum.
Phase 2 of that endeavour will happen on Monday when the committee reassembles to discuss a course of action.
Looking ahead to the second meeting, Tony Brown, president of the neighbourhood NAACP branch, stated, “I want people to stand up and not perpetuate this foolishness.” We must work together to defend the legacy of African Americans and ensure that individuals tell the truth.
The first gathering was attended by about 60 individuals who heard remarks from Brown and other local authorities.
“Not on our watch,” Brown said to the crowd. It is powerful, permanent, and relevant. In this instance, it is essential that we take action and speak up. Everything that defines us as humans—our tradition, history, and legacy—is under attack and being destroyed.
Could you stand in a classroom with what you know and tell your students that slavery was advantageous to slaves, as many of you in this room are educators? Brown enquired.
How can one teach this?
Peggy Jones and Teri Barenborg, members of the School Board, Deborah Taylor-Long, the director of Extended Learning Services for the Indian River County School District, and Kimberly Rahal, the principal of Indian River Academy were among the educators present for the inaugural meeting.
Teachers questioned whether the state-approved curriculum, which states, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” is accurate and how it could be taught in schools, particularly those with Black teachers and kids.
“Can you picture an African American middle school student seeing that there is a benefit to slavery while they are sitting in a classroom?” Jones enquired while holding back tears. “Can you imagine having to teach that to an African American teacher?”
“Not just Black history, but history”
Participants were given the chance to speak about how to respond to DeSantis and his policies. Campaigns to write letters, showing up at School Board meetings, and holding press conferences were suggested.
Regarding the initial meeting, Brown remarked, “It was amazing. People in the room responded by acknowledging that we had an issue and that we needed to fix it.
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In order to further the initiative, hold policymakers responsible, and formalise a plan, they also decided to hold a second meeting.
Taylor-Long hoped that everyone in the neighbourhood will show up to the meeting on Monday. “This is history, and not just Black history.”
According to Brown, “Black history is being lost, stolen, forgotten, and frequently maliciously altered.” That is the environment in which we live.
Community Members And NAACP meeting on Monday is slated to start at 6 p.m. in the Gifford Community Centre.