September 23, 2023

Baptists pledge sustained fight for truth telling of Black history

2 min read

By Gina Jackson

Orlando, Fl—The firestorm over the Florida Board of Education’s new standards for teaching Black history, continued during the Florida General Baptist Convention, Congress of Christian Education in Orlando Florida. The Chairman of the Task Force for Social Justice Ministry, the Reverend Dr. RB Holmes outlined the initiative; “Teaching Our Own History.”

The furor erupted several weeks ago when the Florida Board of Education adopted new teaching standards for Black history.  It was a stunning plan that erased the horrors of bondage and made it appear to be a means of teaching captors a trade.

Benchmark Clarifications: Clarification 1: Instruction includes the trades of slaves (e.g., musicians, healers, blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, weavers, tailors, sawyers, hostlers, silversmiths, cobblers, wheelwrights, wigmakers, milliners, painters, coopers). Clarification 2: Instruction includes the variety of locations slaves worked (e.g., homes, farms, onboard ships, shipbuilding industry).

The lengthy rewrites provoked outrage nationwide and when Governor Ron DeSantis was asked about it, he denied culpability.  DeSantis said “I didn’t make them do it!” But he appointed the members of the Board of Education.  To that President of the General Baptist Convention the Reverend Dr. Carl Johnson said, “Mr. Governor, if you sign something, its your decree. I believe you are a Christian man.  We want to meet with you to talk about corrective action.”

Over the next several months the task force will write and publish a corrective model and curriculum to teach Black history “that is authentic, accurate and factual.” 

A host of well-known and credentialed Black history scholars, clergy and educators make up the group. According to faith leaders the controversy has mobilized the Black community that has been under siege by Governor DeSantis who frequently uses the slogan,” Florida is where “Woke” comes to die.” According to Chair Holmes, “Florida is not where Black History comes to die. The institution of slavery was not a benefit or a blessing.  We will allow no one to rewrite or redefine our history.” 

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