Attorney Ben Crump plans to sue DeSantis over ban of African American studies course

TALLAHASEE, Fla. – Florida Senator Shevrin Jones, Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump and others hosted a press conference Wednesday regarding the DeSantis administration’s ban of a proposed Advanced Placement African American Studies course.

The press conference comes after the College Board announced that it will release a revised version of the course which is currently being piloted in a small number of high schools across the country.

The College Board, after a decade of development, will test the course at 60 high schools nationwide and explained the new class is in a pilot phase and would update and revise the course as they work through the first year, just as they do with any new AP course.

“We don’t need the course rework,” said Dr. Rosland Osgood. “There’s been a conglomerate of college academicians that have worked to put this course together.“

“The Governor’s office and others are trying to bury what they originally said that African American studies brought no educational value,” said Jones.

Crump said that if DeSantis and Florida do not allow the AP African American Studies course to be offered, he has three student plaintiffs that will file a historic lawsuit against the governor and the state.

“If a race has no history or worthwhile traditions that aren’t respected, then it stands in danger of being exterminated,” said Crump. “We are going to make sure that we stand on American principles to make sure that we are respected.”

The course is the latest addition to the AP program, which helps high school students earn college credit.

“This is what it’s about, it’s about them, this is what the fight is for,” Crump said. “Never ever forget that.”

Crump finished his speech by chanting: “Black history is American history.”

Attorney Craig Whisenhunt also spoke at the conference and believes the American people deserve better leadership.

“These students deserve better than the leadership we have seen so far. This country deserves better than Ron DeSantis’ flawed sense of priorities and questionable views on morality and race. We can do better and if we have to do it through the courts, we will,” said Whisenhunt.

Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell said that by blocking the African American Studies course, DeSantis is suppressing First Amendment rights.

“By rejecting the program, DeSantis has made it clear he wants to dictate whose story does and doesn’t belong.” Driskell said. “Accurately teaching our history is not political until others make it so.”

During the announcement in Tallahassee, Crump was joined by AP honors high school students Elijah Edwards and Julliette Heckman.

Edwards, a 10th grade student, spoke directly to DeSantis, saying that he was excited to take the course and was disappointed when he learned it was rejected.

Heckman, an 11th grade student, said just because Florida lawmakers are “uncomfortable” with a topic, doesn’t give them the right to take the students’ opportunity to learn about history.

The board announced Wednesday that a newly reworked version of the course is set to be introduced on Feb 1., the first day of Black History Month.

Watch the 6:00 p.m. report below:

About the Authors:

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.

Alex Finnie joined the Local 10 News team in May 2018. South Florida is home! She was raised in Miami and attended the Cushman School and New World School of the Arts for high school.