Vice President Kamala Harris's claim that Florida's new education standards whitewash slavery is "categorically false," Florida Board of Education adviser William B. Allen said in an unaired ABC News interview.
Allen, a Michigan State University emeritus professor who is black, told ABC that the standards "never said that slavery was beneficial to Africans," as Harris claimed. "What was said, and anyone who reads this will see this with clarity, [is that] Africans ... were able to develop skills and aptitudes which served to their benefit, both while enslaved and after enslavement."
The standards align with Allen's comments, saying that "instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit." The new curriculum extensively covers black history, ranging from pre-Revolution plantation life and the "service and sacrifice of African patriots" to the Civil Rights Era and the "contributions and sacrifices" of modern-day "African American pioneers," including Harris.
Harris in a fiery Friday speech used the "benefit" statement to accuse Florida Republicans of covering up slavery.
"They want to replace history with lies," the vice president said. "Middle-school students in Florida [are] to be told that enslaved people benefited from slavery."
ABC News included only a small portion of its interview with Allen in its segment on the standards. Jeremy Redfern, the press secretary for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R.), released the full interview on Twitter.
When ABC asked Allen if the board should amend the standards following the criticism from Harris and other left-wingers, Allen gave a firm no.
Changing the standards "would be effectively to erase people's history," the professor said. "My great-grandfather is someone who … was enslaved here and whose own resourcefulness, resilience, and adaptiveness was certainly instrumental in producing for his family, his descendants, the ability to prosper here in this country. Hence, from his resourcefulness, we derive benefits. I think anyone who would try to change that language would be denying that great-grandfather … made any contribution."
"I think every intellect can understand the language written" in the Florida standards, Allen concluded, "if people will only take the time to read it. And it's only those who don't take the time to read it who will misstate it."