Several prominent Black Republicans have spoken out against Florida’s slavery curriculum, only to be attacked by white DeSantis supporters.
The standards, which teach middle school students that enslaved people “benefitted” from slavery, have caused nationwide controversy. Democrats, who initially voiced the loudest opposition, were soon joined by several Black GOP elected leaders.
Tim Scott, South Carolina Senator and presidential candidate, told a reporter last week “there is no silver lining”. Scott explained how enslavers ripped families apart and engaged in torture, rape and more – calling the practice “devastating”.
Byron Donalds, a the only Black Congressman from Florida, also took issue with the standards. Donalds said most of the Florida standards around Black History as “robust and accurate”, but this standard regarding slavery should be changed.
“I have faith that the Florida Department of Education will correct this,” Donalds said.
DeSantis responds to criticism with outrage and attacks
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who originally claimed he had nothing to do with the standards, attacked Black Republicans who spoke against them.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to choose… are you going to side with Kamala Harris… or with the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
“Part of the reason our country has struggled is because D.C. Republicans all too often accept false narratives, accept lies that are perpetrated by the left.”
The attacks didn’t stop with DeSantis himself.
Several white DeSantis supporters and staff members also lashed out at Scott and Donalds.
Jenna Ellis, DeSantis supporter and outspoken bigot, accused Donalds of “repeating leftist talking points.”
“You’re the one trying to score cheap political points by repeating leftist talking points against Florida,” Ellis wrote.
Wesley Hunt, a Black Republican congressman from Texas, also expressed his frustrations with the standards.
“As the direct descendent of a slave, I have a hard time understanding Governor DeSantis’ position that transferrable skills learned in bondage are somehow a net benefit,” Hunt wrote.
Carly Atchison, a former member of Governor Kevin Stitt’s communications team is now working on the DeSantis campaign. Last week, Atchison retweeted a statement from podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey calling Hunt an idiot.
“[Hunt’s] idiocy is neverending,” the tweet Atchison shared reads. “I don’t believe anyone actually has any problem with the curriculum, which is completely non-controversial.”
Black GOP Congressman John James slams DeSantis for his attacks on other Black elected GOP leaders
John James, a Black Republican House member from Michigan, also jumped in to defend his colleagues. James took to Twitter (X), telling DeSantis to simply “stop”.
“Nothing about that 400 years of evil was a net benefit to my ancestors,” James wrote.
“You are now so far from the Party of Lincoln that your Ed. board is re-writing history and you’re personally attacking conservatives like [Tim Scott] and [Byron Donalds] on the topic of slavery,” James continued in a second tweet. “You’ve gone too far. Stop.”
Trump officials and supporters have also stepped in to push back against the curriculum. Trump advisor Jason Miller lashed out against DeSantis, calling his attacks “a smear campaign”.
DeSantis, however, remains defiant in the face of backlash against the incendiary standard.
“We will defend Florida and stand firm against false, politically-driven narrative,” DeSantis told reporters.