Harris calls potential government shutdown ‘completely irresponsible’

Several issues are swirling this week with potential economic and political fallout, including the ongoing auto workers strike, a looming government shutdown and the first hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Geoff Bennett spoke to Vice President Kamala Harris about all of it at Morehouse College in Atlanta where she courted young voters as part of a month-long college tour.

Harris: ‘Ridiculous’ to have to say slavery had no benefits

Vice President Kamala Harris is doubling down on her rebuke of new Florida education guidelines that call for the teaching of how enslaved people benefited from slavery. 

In an interview Monday with ABC News’s Linsey Davis, Harris dismissed allegations that her response to these guidelines is “ideological posturing.”

“I think that this is just a matter of whether one chooses to speak fact and truth or not, and its pretty much that simple,” said Harris. “I don’t think this is up to any ideological debate to say that people who were enslaved did not benefit from slavery, period. 

"It almost seems ridiculous to have to say what I just said, that enslaved people do not benefit from slavery,” Harris continued. “There are so-called leaders, extremists, who are attempting to require in our nation an unnecessary debate with the intention, I believe, to try and divide us as Americans. Stop. Stop.”

Harris has been among the top voices to criticize Florida’s new education guidelines, going as far as to accuse the Florida Department of Education and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of creating a “revisionist history.” 

“They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it,” Harris said earlier this month at Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s 56th national convention in Indianapolis. “We who share a collective experience in knowing we must honor history and our duty in the context of legacy.”

Later, the nation’s first Black vice president traveled to Jacksonville, Fla., a predominantly Black city in the Sunshine State, and accused Republican leaders of “pushing propaganda” on children. 

Black leaders around the country have condemned the lesson, along with another lesson that discusses how acts of violence were perpetrated against and by African Americans, including the Tulsa Race Massacre and the 1920 Ocoee Massacre. 

DeSantis, who is campaigning for president, has defended the guidelines, saying that the state's education department “did a good job with those standards." 

He has also accused Democrats, including Harris, of lying about Florida’s educational standards “to cover for their agenda of indoctrinating students and pushing sexual topics onto children.” 

But the growing criticism has also come from within DeSantis’s own party. Black conservatives have called for the standards to be reviewed

It’s unclear if the guidelines will be changed at all, but the fallout so far has come as DeSantis’s competitors for 2024 have begun to gain on his second-place position for the GOP nomination. 

Harris's comments with Davis are part of a larger interview set to air Monday night. The full interview will include her thoughts on reproductive rights and the way Black history is taught in schools.