ORLANDO, FLORIDA — Kamala Harris doesn’t want to talk to Ron DeSantis. She just wants to talk about him.
The VP made it clear on Tuesday that she would not be accepting the governor’s offer to participate in a roundtable discussion about Florida’s new educational standards for teaching African American history in public schools.
On Monday, DeSantis sent Harris a letter in response to her recent accusation that the state was trying to “gaslight” students by teaching them that “enslaved people benefited from slavery.”
Late last month, Harris was the most prominent voice among a sea of critics who took issue with a sentence in the new curriculum that argued some black Americans benefited from “skills” they obtained as slaves.
In his letter, the governor defended the curriculum and asked Harris to join him and Dr. William Allen – the former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who helped author the state’s standards – to address the historical accuracy in a roundtable discussion.
Speaking at an African Methodist Episcopal Church convention in Orlando, Harris dismissed the idea of having any dialogue on the subject.
“I’m here in Florida, and I will tell you: there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact,” she said. “There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”
“They attempt to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that most recently came in of a politically motivated roundtable.”
Harris’s reference to “a politically motivated roundtable” is likely referring to the African American History Standards Workgroup that helped the Florida Department of Education to develop the curriculum.
DeSantis’ letter called the vice president’s criticism an attempt to “score cheap political points.” The governor contrasted what he considered manufactured outrage with his administration’s willingness to tackle challenging subject matter.
“In Florida, we are unafraid to have an open and honest dialogue about the issues.”