Florida School District Cancels Professor's Civil Rights Lecture Citing Concerns Over Critical Race Theory
"The victims of this censorship are history and the truth. The end game is they're going to make teaching civil rights into critical race theory, and it's not," Flagler College History Professor, J. Michael Butler, said.
January 25, 2022 at 8:03 pm
Concerns over the Critical Race Theory (CRT) led to the cancellation of a history professor's civil rights history seminar in Florida.
Flagler College professor J. Michael Butler scheduled a workshop called "The Long Civil Rights Movement," which argues that the civil rights movement existed long before and post-dated Martin Luther King, Jr. by decades. The seminar, prepared for the Osceola School District teachers, was canceled less than 24 hours of its scheduling due to state Senate committee legislation requested by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
NBC News reports that Butler was shocked to learn that the seminar had been canceled but was not surprised because educators deal with intimidating tactics over Critical Race Theory.
"There's a climate of fear, an atmosphere created by Gov. Ron DeSantis, that has blurred the lines between scared and opportunistic," Butler said. "The victims of this censorship are history and the truth. The end game is they're going to make teaching civil rights into critical race theory, and it's not."
This month Kenan Distinguished Professor of History & Director of the African-American Studies minor J. Michael Butler will deliver a lecture to his history class titled 'From Civil Rights to Black Power in Rock' that will be broadcasted on @cspan !https://t.co/cAafJl2xn3 pic.twitter.com/uiS15PvnUo
— Flagler College (@FlaglerCollege) November 17, 2020
Following the request of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, the senate education committee passed the bill on Tuesday (Jan. 18), preventing public schools and private businesses from teaching about race in fear of causing discomfort. However, Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Gov. DeSantis, tells the news outlet that the governor was not involved in the Osceola County controversy, arguing that CTR and factual history are not the same.
"Critical Race Theory and factual history are two different things. The endless attempts to gaslight Americans by conflating the two are as ineffective as they are tiresome," Pushaw said. "So just to be clear, mixing up' teaching history' with 'teaching CRT' is dishonest."
Republican Sen. Manny Diaz noted that the "Individual Freedom" legislation is not about ignoring American history but making sure people aren't blamed for past sins.
"No individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by the virtue of his or her race or sex," Diaz said. "No race is inherently superior to another race."
However, the Democratic Party argues that the legislation will only lead to censorship in schools potential lawsuits and isn't necessary. In addition, AP reports that Florida State Senate Shevrin Jones feels that the bill is not for Black people but for White people to avoid feeling guilt for historical facts.
"This bill's not for Blacks; this bill was not for any other race. This was directed to make whites not feel bad about what happened years ago," Sen. Jones said. "At no point did anyone say white people should be held responsible for what happened, but what I would ask my white counterparts is, are you an enabler of what happened, or are you going to say we must talk about history?"
Sen. Jones went to Twitter the day after the bill passed to push his thoughts further on whether his white counterparts wanted to be a part of the solution or the problem.
"You're either an enabler of the past or a voice of TRUTH and CHANGE for the future generations to come," Jones tweeted. "But you can't be both. Silence = complacency."
— Shevrin “Shev” Jones (@ShevrinJones) January 19, 2022
In December Gov. DeSantis held a news conference and described critical race theory as "crap" and said he would introduce legislation that would allow parents to sue schools and employees to sue employers if they were taught it.
Republican leaders reject CTR, claiming it is Marxist and divides society into oppressed groups based on race. They believe it attempts to rewrite American history and make white people think they are racists.
Developed during the 1970s and 1980s, CTR responds to what scholars viewed as the stagnation of racial progress following the civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Through the lens of critical race theory, Americans can look at their nation's history through the prism of racism.