Former Jacksonville teacher, current pastor calls on Duval school board to reject controversial slavery teachings

A community meeting was held Monday night to talk about the new controversial Black history curriculum in Florida schools.

Opponents of the curriculum met at the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Northwest Jacksonville.

Some community members are organizing and looking at legal options to fight the curriculum which they say erases or misrepresents Black history. Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is defending the teachings and said liberals are politicizing it.

The group that gathered at the church met with a legal group they’ve retained, the Lawyer’s Committee based in Washington D.C.

RELATED: Local Rep. on African American History Task Force says she didn’t know about state’s new controversial slavery teachings | ‘Slavery did not benefit Black people’: Duval County School Board member speaks out about new teaching standards

A key sticking point in the curriculum is one that requires teachers to include instruction that slaves developed skills that could be applied for their personal benefit. The other mandates educators to include acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans.

Van Henderson was at the meeting simply looking for information.

“Very concerning because you can’t talk about what you don’t know about. And if you don’t know about it, you can’t tell others about it,” Henderson said.

RELATED: Duval County teacher resigns over new curriculum for teaching African American history

Pastor R.L. Gundy is with the Jacksonville Leadership Coalition and organized the meeting. He’s calling on the Duval County School Board to reject the curriculum and wants to encourage teachers not to teach it.

“Hopefully we can get an injunction for them not to teach it. I don’t know, I’m not a legal mind. Hopefully, we can get them to repeal it. And then hopefully we can get an apology from the Governor and the commissioner and the legislative body. Because this is just something that’s not necessary,” said Gundy, a former Duval County history teacher who resigned from his job over this new curriculum.

But Gov. DeSantis is not backing down.

“Floridians should stand up for Florida. Don’t side with Kamala Harris and liberals who are demagogue-ing this. These are people who worked really hard on this,” DeSantis said.

“They’re probably going to show is some of the folks that eventually parlayed being a blacksmith into doing things later, later in life. But the reality is: All of that is rooted in whatever is factual,” DeSantis said later.

Earlier this year, the DeSantis administration rejected a College Board Advanced Placement course on African American history, which DeSantis said was “indoctrination.”

MORE: DeSantis is defending new slavery teachings. Civil rights leaders see a pattern of ‘policy violence’ | It’s Kamala Harris vs. Ron DeSantis in the fight over Florida’s new teachings on slavery

Vice President Kamala Harris said extremists want to “replace history with lies” as she traveled to Jacksonville last month to assail Republican efforts to overhaul educational standards, plunging into a battle over schooling that has rippled through classrooms around the country.

“They dare to push propaganda to our children,” she said. “This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that.”

Gundy said he needs to talk to locals, not the White House.

“She’s the vice president, this is the state level,” he said. “If [DeSantis] wants to sit down, come sit down with us. Sit down with me. I’ll sit down with him about it, because…I may not be able to convince him that it’s wrong but that gives him a political forum. We don’t want to politicize this. We want it gone.”

The group said they’re open to everything including businesses starting boycotts and even floated the idea of students who disagree with the curriculum walking out of the classroom.

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