Written by WUSF | By Nancy Guan


In recent years, conservative lawmakers have sought to limit how public schools teach race and history. To combat those efforts, community groups are stepping in to fill the void.

Daysha Moore walked into the St. Augustine Episcopal Church on a Thursday night with a question in mind: how can students learn more about Black history in Florida?

The Pinellas County native is a freshman at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. When she was in high school, Moore said lessons on Black History were often “compartmentalized.”

“I feel like for so long, in my education, I wasn’t taught about Black history,” she said, “But it’s so important.”

And, for the last several years, she’s witnessed the state first limit how race and history are taught in K-12 schools and then defund Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs in higher education.

To Moore, those actions were suppressing parts of history that are already “pushed to the side.”

“What’s going to happen to the next generation? So many people are going to be left behind through this — and they’re already being left behind.”

At the church, Moore was joined by a group of people who are also seeking more of that knowledge. They gather for a Black History teach-in. Similar events have popped up throughout the community in response to the state’s restrictions on race-related education.

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in St. Petersburg started hosting classes last year. They’re named after the Freedom Schools that taught African American students during the 1960s.

ASALH President Jacqueline Hubbard said they’re hoping to teach the community a more complete version of history. Their classes so far have touched upon African history and culture through slavery, the Civil War, emancipation, reconstruction, and segregation.

“Black children are not being told the truth,” Hubbard said.

The Stop WOKE Act, enacted in 2022, prohibits K-12 public schools from teaching a list of concepts, including that someone is inherently privileged or oppressed based solely on their race, sex or national origin.

In the last year, the Florida Department of Education changed its African American history standards to comply with state law. The new standards drew national criticism for its framing of slavery and lack of nuance according to some educators.

The government’s crackdown on race-related issues have caused a chilling effect in classrooms, said Sabrina Griffin, who organizes Freedom School lessons.

“We have teachers who are certified to teach history who are unable to fulfill their mission. It’s really unfortunate, because how else are the children going to learn the truth?” asked Griffin.

“But that’s why I’m involved with the Freedom School.”


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