Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday rejected an invitation from Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R.) to discuss the state's new black history curriculum and said she will not be debating the topic of slavery with him.
DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, on Monday invited Harris to Florida to discuss the state's black history curriculum after the vice president criticized it for backing guidelines that she said taught "revisionist history" about slavery in the United States.
Florida's board of education approved new guidelines in July, including one for middle school students that states "instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."
On Tuesday, Harris, made a previously scheduled speech in the state, telling the audience, "Well, I'm here in Florida. I will tell you, there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery."
While Harris and other Democrats have slammed the curriculum for including the line, another course they fiercely defended against scrutiny from DeSantis featured a similar line that said slaves learned skills from "specialized trades" to "provide for themselves and others."
Harris was in Orlando to deliver remarks at an African Methodist Episcopal Church event, where she painted DeSantis as an "extremist" while not referencing him by name.
"We will not stop calling out and fighting back against extremist, so-called leaders who try to prevent our children from learning our true and full history," Harris said.
DeSantis, who earlier this year blocked an advanced placement African American studies course from being taught to high schoolers in his state, accused the Biden administration of disparaging Florida and misinforming Americans on the subject.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot)