Black curriculum co-author defends slavery wording in new Florida guidelines

MIAMI – Florida’s recent curriculum changes are stirring up a lot of outrage as they relate to the guidelines on teaching about slavery.

Local 10 News’ Glenna Milberg spoke with one of the Black authors of the new curriculum.

“I say leave nothing out within the realm of human capacities,” said William Allen, a political scientist and author of “The Imaginative Conservative.”

Leaving nothing out is including a full detailed story of the African-American experience in Florida’s curriculum, says Allen.

The former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights under President Ronald Regan and President George H. W. Bush volunteered to be part of the workgroup of 13 who wrote the curriculum for the state Department of Education.

“We need to tell the people’s stories the way they told their stories, not to fit our expectations,” said Allen.

The national outrage exploded mostly over a benchmark included in a lesson about the kinds of labor enslaved people were forced into, and that “slaves developed skills from which they could personally benefit,” which a state education director found himself explaining to teachers in Miami-Dade County this week.

Allen insists the history of enslaved people as an American atrocity is also one comprised of varied and complex accounts.

“The stories of the people who lived through the history, they have a right to tell the story in their own words, and what we have provided for is the telling of those stories as they themselves told it,” Allen said.

He was also asked why Florida’s anti-communism education might not also teach how Fidel Castro provided Cubans free education and medical care.

“I can only answer to that which I contributed,” Allen said.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."