Vice President Kamala Harris visited the state of Florida Friday and teed off on Florida Republican leaders and the state board of education for pushing “propaganda” in an attempt to “gaslight” students about American history.
Harris’ visit was a direct response to the Florida Board of Education’s recent approval of a new curriculum that many critics have labeled an attempt to whitewash the truth about racism in America and the plight of African Americans.
Speaking in Jacksonville, Florida, Vice President Harris spoke proudly of being the product of a public-school education that offered her a “full expanse” of information and allowed her to hone her critical thinking skills.
“It is because of that approach that I stand before you today as vice president of the United States of America,” Harris said to applause.
But she warned that attempts by some Florida Republicans to water down history in schools, including book-banning, run the risk of sending future generations out into the world ignorant of their own history.
Harris noted, “Be really clear—all the folks that we would send our children out to meet around the world are clear about our history. And we’re gonna send our own children out to not know what it is? Building in a handicap for our children that they’re going to be the ones in the room who don’t know their own history when the rest of the world does?”
Vice President Harris accused Florida Republicans of “pushing propaganda on our children.” But she pointed out that this was not just a Florida issue. “There is a national agenda afoot,” she warned.
She called out extremists and “so-called leaders” who in recent months have issued ban books. “Book bans in this year of our Lord 2023,” she lamented.
Harris took particular offense to parts of the new Florida curriculum that teaches that some enslaved people enjoyed the “benefits” of slavery because it taught them useful skills. Harris laid out the horrors of slavery, including rape, torture, and ripping apart of families as “some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world. It involved subjecting people to the requirement that they think of themselves and be thought of as less than human.”
To suggest any level of “benefit” in the face of such dehumanization and atrocities is insulting, said Harris. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us and we will not have it!”
Instead of forgetting and or distorting the country’s past, Harris called on Americans to draw strength from their shared history of progress. She encouraged the audience to see this point in history as an opportunity to rebuild a coalition that will continue to fight against ignorance and oppression.
“We know that we rise or fall together as a nation. And we will not allow them to suggest anything other than what we know: The vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us.
“So, let us stand always for what we know is right,” said Harris. “Let us fight for what is right. And when we fight, we win.”
Watch Vice President Kamala Harris’ full speech above.