March 31, 2023

EQUITY: Publisher steps up as Florida restricts Black history

EQUITY: Publisher steps up as Florida restricts Black history

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may have an issue with students in his state accessing comprehensive education about Black history, but one publisher has stepped in to make a difference.

Haymarket Books is working to put free books into the hands of students, in direct defiance of politicians who want books out of classrooms.

Haymarket is starting with three free ebooks that anyone can download.

In Florida, they’re taking an additional step, seeking to connect with individuals and organizations to make sure “radical books” are available to any young person who wants them.

This initiative was announced earlier this month, as Florida teachers spoke about being made to remove books from their classrooms until they could be vetted against the lists of books the state is allowing in schools.

Any book that isn’t on the list, teachers have been warned, must be removed until it is approved, and there could be legal consequences for allowing a student to access a book the state hasn’t sanctioned.

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Haymarket Books, which describes itself as a “radical, independent, nonprofit book publisher,” has a history of working to combat prison book bans.

Unfortunately, the reality of Florida’s leadership means that school kids are now in need of the same type of outreach as convicted felons.

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For their part, Haymarket Books issued this statement explaining their motives:

“The racist governor of Florida continues to escalate his attacks on the freedom to learn and teach history….We know that books can be dangerous to those in power, especially when they are in the hands of folks who are organizing to fight for liberation. That’s why we publish them. That’s why they’re trying to ban them.”

DeSantis has continued to attack an elective AP Black History course, pushing it out of public schools and even attacking the publisher, the College Board.

Scroll down to watch the Florida governor claim that teaching this material is “problematic” and that people across the political spectrum agree with him.

DeSantis even goes so far as to hint that the state could eliminate using any material from the College Board, potentially ending Advanced Placement courses altogether for students in his state’s public schools.

Meanwhile, the College Board has “stripped down” the curriculum, according to The New York Times, rewriting it to eliminate references to Black Lives Matter, mass incarceration, and other more current topics. It has also added the option to study “Black conservatism” instead.

While DeSantis might be one of the major players in this saga, he’s not the only one fighting to limit Black History education.

In one Alabama school, students have already staged a walkout this month, after they say their administration told them their Black History program couldn’t reference anything that took place before 1970, according to CBS42.

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You can watch Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attack the College Board and its Advance Placement Black History curriculum in the video clip below, followed by tweets from Haymarket Books which include its reading list.

Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.

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