Miami-Dade teachers, others march to protest Florida’s Black history standards

MIAMI – A group of “teachers, students, community members and Teamsters” marched to the Miami-Dade school board headquarters Wednesday in protest of Florida’s controversial Black history standards.

The protest, dubbed #TeachNoLies is being organized by the Miami Center for Racial Justice.

At issue in particular is a state curriculum standard to teach middle school students “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

“The phrase that they’re saying that there were ‘benefits’ that happened to enslaved people is just disgusting,” protester Jonathan Gartrelle told Local 10 News. “It denigrates the experience of 50 million enslaved Africans that were destroyed and brutally tortured and trafficked. And it tries to soften and whitewash history.”

He added: “This is another white supremacist tactic that we’re seeing again and again over and over in different places, this time in education.”

State officials have called the curriculum factual and well-documented.

Demonstrators disagreed.

“What the state is trying to do to control the curriculum and control what students are learning is unfair,” protester Brittany Frizzelle said. “It’s also not true.”

The march began at 11 a.m. at Booker T. Washington Senior High School, located at 1200 NW 6th Ave. in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood.

It finished at 1 p.m. at the district’s administration building at 1450 NE 2nd Ave.

Joining demonstrators was Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson. The Memphis Democrat was one of two Black lawmakers in the Volunteer State expelled and reinstated for protesting in favor of gun control on the floor of the state’s House of Representatives.

“Being raped, having your children stolen from you, being maimed, being denied the right to read, those were not benefits for our ancestors,” Pearson said.

Although the protest continued outside, the topic remained a hot button issue during public comment at the school board meeting inside.

Even a school board member, Dr. Steve Gallon, weighed in.

“African American History is American history, it’s about all of us,” he said. “It’s about how we stand in solidarity.”

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About the Authors:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.