Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump at an event in New York last June. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Netflix
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined Florida students on Wednesday in announcing that they would sue the state and its Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, if they did not reinstate the African American Studies course in the Advanced Placement program.
Driving the news: There is growing outrage over the Florida Education Department’s decision to block the course. The department last week Told the College Board, the nonprofit group overseeing the AP program, that it is “contrary to Florida law and grossly lacking in educational value”.
- Crump, who represents the three high school students honored by the AP with attorney Craig Whisenhunt, said at a press briefing Wednesday that the class blocking violates the federal and state constitutions.
What they say : “If the Governor allows the College Board to present AP African American Studies in classrooms across the State of Florida, we will not feel the need to bring this historic lawsuit,” Crump said.
- “However, if he rejects the free flow of ideas and suppresses African American studies, we are prepared to take this controversy all the way to the United States Supreme Court.”
The context: The Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved an amendment in 2021 banning critical race theory, which ties racial discrimination to the nation’s foundations and legal system, in a move supported by DeSantis.
- Last week, the state education commissioner tied the AP course to the CRT, Tweeter that the department had “rejected an AP course replete with critical race theory and other clear violations of Florida law.”
The big picture: Community leaders and state lawmakers criticized the decision to get rid of the program.
- Some speakers at a “Stop the Black Attack” voting rights rally in the state capital, Tallahassee, on Wednesday accused DeSantis of trying to further marginalize Florida’s black community, according to The Washington Post.
- State Sen. Shevrin Jones (D) said DeSantis should address issues such as Florida’s ‘ruined schools’, but these were ‘ignored because we have to deal with the promotion of Jim Crow 3.0 by people who don’t know and don’t care. about what’s happening in black communities, but they want to arbitrate how you teach our history.”
- State Rep. Michele Rayner (D) said DeSantis was on a political ‘witch hunt’ and ‘there are 2.8 million students sitting in Florida public schools right now knowing that their governor doesn’t want them learning black history,” WashPost reports.
What we are looking at: The Florida Department of Education said earlier this month it would be “willing to reopen the discussion” if the College Board developed a curriculum with “lawful and historically accurate content.”
What he says : Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment, but the Florida governor said in 2021: “Critical Race Theory teaches children to hate our country and to hate themselves. This is state-sanctioned racism and has no place in Florida schools.”
Go further: The Next Critical Battles of Race Theory