Top Civil Rights Lawyer Wants to Sue DeSantis Over Rejected Black History Course

Ben Crump is giving notice after the state blocked the course saying it was in conflict with its Critical Race Theory rules.
Images via AP.

Ben Crump, famed for being Black America’s lawyer, is ready to take legal action over the Florida Education Department’s decision to block a college-level high school Black history course.

Crump, who’s represented countless Black families in civil suits against government entities, announced his intentions Wednesday during a press conference in Tallahassee. And he says that if this lawsuit moves forward, he won’t be alone in taking the state to court; he’ll be joined by three students who are also frustrated by the state’s decision.

“We are here to give notice to Gov. [Ron] DeSantis that if he does not negotiate with the College Board to allow AP African American studies to be taught in the classrooms across the state of Florida, these three young people will be the lead plaintiffs in a historic lawsuit,” Crump said.

The announcement comes five days after the state’s education department, which is under the leadership of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’, rejected the College Board’s curriculum for African American studies for allegedly being historically inaccurate and violating the state’s laws on what can be taught in classrooms.

DeSantis and the state Department of Education say their decision to reject the curriculum is due to the state’s recent controversial ban on critical race theory, the rightwing boogeyman which includes teaching historical accountability for systemic racism and LGBTQ history.

“As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda that leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow,” the department stated in a letter about its decision last week. “As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination.”

While the state is calling the course a form of indoctrination, critics like Crump are calling it DeSantis’ latest effort to stamp out factual accounts of Black history from its schools.

“We remember what Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black history, said: If a race has no history, if a race has no worthwhile traditions that are respected and taught to the youth, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world,” Crump said.

“Are we going to let Gov. DeSantis, or anybody, exterminate Black History from the classrooms of Florida?”

Since taking office in 2019, DeSantis has had a significant impact on what is taught in Florida’s schools. Both of his major education bills, the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill and the Individual Freedom Act, (which was first widely known as the ‘Stop W.O.K.E.’ Act), passed with support from conservatives in the state legislature last year.

The College Board, a non-profit body that controls the Advanced Placement program across all states, has since announced that it will go back to the drawing board with the program. The Board tempered concerns over the state’s rejection of their African American studies course, saying in a statement last week that “piloting and revising course frameworks is a standard part of any new AP course, and frameworks often change significantly as a result.”

They are set to present their new take on the curriculum on February 1, the first day of Black History Month.