Governor Ron DeSantis frequently tells supporters that he is on a campaign against wokeism.
Last week, his appointees at the Florida Department of Education banned the College Board's Advanced Placement African-American Studies course after finding it significantly lacks educational value.
Now Professor Emeritus at Florida International University is defying the governor's prohibition on the AP African-American Studies course by spotlighting the sites of some of the worst racial atrocities in the state's history.
FIU Professor Marvin Dunn has resisted the governor's campaign against wokeism, critical race theory, AP history, and diversity, by leading high school students on what he calls Teach the Truth Tours, and Professor Dunn joins us now.
Professor, nice to see you.
Thanks for joining us.
- My pleasure.
- So the governor says that under the new law, you can teach about racism and slavery, but you can't teach critical race theory.
He says you can teach historical facts, but you can't distort American history to what he calls trying to advance a current ideological agenda.
Is that what's happening in your mind?
- Well, Governor DeSantis taught school for a while and some of his former students have reported that he told them that abortion was wrong.
Some have said that he told them that the Confederacy had a point, because they lost property.
Whose agenda was Ron DeSantis pushing when he was a teacher?
I have found in this instance that the most cruel trick is being played on the people of this country, and particularly on the people of Florida.
When you have politicians telling university professors what they can and cannot teach... We have politicians reaching into the classroom, picking out which books can be there and which cannot.
This is cherry-picking history.
The problem with cherry-picking history, which is what Ron DeSantis is doing, is you've gotta make sure you don't have somebody who hates cherries.
(Rob laughing) - So is there a clear distinction between critical race theory and African-American history?
Is that line clear for you to see?
- Critical race theory is African-American history.
It is African-American history, because critical race theory looks at the ways in which race has followed us through the generations, even from slavery to today, and to say that there is no following, there are no long-term effects of the kinds of things that African-Americans have been subjected to in this country is at best naive, and at worse intentional.
- So what are you doing?
Tell us what you're doing to defy what the governor is pushing back against, against critical race theory and wokeism.
What are you doing?
- I am organizing tours, taking young people, high school kids, each with a parent or a grandparent, on a bus overnight, all expenses paid by us, by our nonprofit, to places where the blood has been shed, places they wouldn't know about if we didn't take them there.
This trip that we took in January, we went to Mims, Florida where Harry T. Moore was killed in 1951, blown up by the Klan.
From there to Newberry, Florida where the largest known lynching in Florida history took place in 1916.
We walked that ground, we went to the graves, we cried, and then, from there we went to Rosewood where I have five acres of property there that I co-own.
Today I'm the only black person who owns land in Rosewood.
That town was burned down in 1923 by a mob, so the tour ends at my property and the people on the tour can walk in Rosewood in peace and enjoy this tranquility, this beautiful pristine place where so much happened in a very short period of time in 1923.
- Do you think the governor would object to these tours?
I mean, do you have any indication that he is opposed to the kind of tours that you're taking these high school students on?
- I would save a seat up front for the governor, because he needs these tours more than the students do.
I would invite him to the next one.
The next tour that we're going to have will be done during the legislative session and we'll end up at the governor's mansion, so, if he doesn't join us, we'll come down and meet him at his mansion.
- You've asked the governor for a definition.
You've asked the governor to define what is okay to teach and what's not okay to teach.
Have you heard from the governor?
- I sent the governor a letter asking him very specifically, what kinds of things may I teach or not teach in a college classroom?
I sent a copy to the Secretary of Education, Manny Diaz.
Not a peep from either of them.
- [Rob Lorei] Why do you think that is?
- I know why it is.
These people are running away from black history.
They're running away from the issue that they've created.
I think Ron DeSantis has touched a live wire.
You start dabbling in academic courses, particularly at the university level, a lot of Americans don't like that.
They don't want the state telling professors what they can teach or not teach, and that's white and black, that's conservative and liberal.
Americans don't like that.
That's the way Stalin did it.
That's the way Hitler did it.
Castro did it that way.
Stay out of the classrooms, but that's what we're facing now.
- Is one of the implications of this, the governor says he doesn't want people feeling bad or made to feel bad after learning history, so that touches not just on African-American history, that touches on all sorts of histories as you just pointed out.
- I don't know how to teach about slavery without having people possibly feel bad.
They should feel bad about it.
They shouldn't feel guilty.
I don't know a person today, alive, who owns slaves.
People shouldn't be made to feel guilty.
I've not heard a teacher in 40 years of my being in education, tell a student, "You need to feel bad."
Ron DeSantis just made this up.
The whole woke mob thing is made up by this man.
Where's the woke mob?
I wanna lead it, show me.
- So one final question and that is, do you know of college professors or high school teachers who have refrained from talking about some aspects of black history, because of the governor's campaign against woke?
- Unfortunately, I've had teachers tell me, "Dr. Dunn, I have to take your book out of my classroom.
I won't dare be caught with this book in my classroom."
That's sickening, but, yes, teachers are afraid.
They're trying to prevent themselves from being arrested or charged with a felony.
It's mean out there and this is not by accident.
This was created by Ron DeSantis to frighten white people to vote for him, a mean claw for the White House at any cost.
- Dr. Marvin Dunn, thanks a lot for coming on "Florida this Week."
- You're welcome.
- Well, the official syllabus for the college board's AP African-American Studies course has not yet been released, but a conservative website called the Florida Standard claims it has obtained an advanced copy.
We're going to scroll the contents and as you'll see, if this is true, the course will be a deep dive into African-American history.