Florida School District, Citing "Critical Race Theory" Concerns, Cancels Prof's Civil Rights History LectureHistorians in the News
tags: Florida, culture war, teaching history, civil rights history, critical race theory
A Florida school district canceled a professor’s civil rights history seminar for teachers, citing in part concerns over “critical race theory” — even though his lecture had nothing to do with the topic.
J. Michael Butler, a history professor at Flagler College in St. Augustine, was scheduled to give a presentation Saturday to Osceola County School District teachers called “The Long Civil Rights Movement,” which postulates that the civil rights movement preceded and post-dated Martin Luther King Jr. by decades.
He said that he was shocked to learn why the seminar had been canceled through an email Wednesday but that he wasn’t surprised because educators feel increasingly intimidated over teaching about race.
Less than 24 hours before Butler was informed of the cancellation, a state Senate committee advanced legislation Tuesday at the behest of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to block public schools and private businesses from making people feel “discomfort” when they’re taught about race. DeSantis also wants to empower parents to sue schools that teach 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 in a phone interview.
“The victims of this censorship are history and the truth,” Butler said. “The end game is they’re going to make teaching civil rights into ‘critical race theory,’ and it’s not.”
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