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Harris rejects DeSantis' invitation to discuss controversial African American history lessons

The Women's Mission Society of the AME Church welcomed Vice President Kamala Harris on stage
Joe Byrnes
The Women's Mission Society of the AME Church welcomed Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday afternoon.

Vice President Kamala Harris has answered Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ official invitation to meet and discuss the state’s African American history standards.

During a speech in Orlando Tuesday, she emphatically declined the invitation.

In a letter dated Monday, DeSantis invited Harris to Tallahassee for that discussion. She had condemned the newly ratified standards because they say enslaved workers sometimes benefited from slavery.

DeSantis, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, argues the White House should applaud the state’s boldness in teaching African American history but instead is “attempting to score cheap political points.”

In her speech to the Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Harris did not mention the governor by name.

"There is no roundtable," she said, "no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact, there were no redeeming qualities of slavery."

Harris recalled the AME Church's history of promoting civil rights for all. She says America needs their leadership again, saying, "In this moment, across our country hard-fought, hard-won freedoms are under full-on attack."

She said, “extremists” are attacking voting rights, abortion rights and the right to love whom you wish and are trying to rewrite the ugly parts of American history.

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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