Vice President Harris on Tuesday fired back after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis offered to discuss his state's African American history standards following Florida's approval of controversial new rules for teaching the subject.
"Right here in Florida, they plan to teach students that enslaved people benefited from slavery. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates, and now they attempt to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that most recently came in of a politically motivated roundtable," Harris said in remarks at the Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Quadrennial Convention.
"Well, I'm here in Florida and 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," she added.
The vice president's appearance at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando comes amid contention with DeSantis after Florida’s Board of Education passed the new standards, which Harris said in a separate trip to Florida last month was the state “pushing propaganda” onto children.
DeSantis, who is running for the GOP nomination for president, invited Harris in a Monday letter to Tallahassee to discuss the new standards.
“In Florida we are unafraid to have an open and honest dialogue about the issues,” DeSantis wrote in the letter to Harris. “And you clearly have no trouble ducking down to Florida on short notice. So given your grave concern (which, I must assume, is sincere) about what you think our standards say, I am officially inviting you back down to Florida to discuss our African American History standards.”
The Florida governor had dismissed the vice president's criticisms of the standards and accused her of crafting a “fake narrative" about the curriculum.
One new standard that has come under scrutiny directs teachers to include instruction on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Harris has said it's "ridiculous" to have to say "that enslaved people do not benefit from slavery."
"As I said last week, when I was again here in Florida, 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 Tuesday at the event in DeSantis's state. "And so, in this moment, let us remember, it is in the darkness that the candle shines most brightly."