Vice President Harris rejects DeSantis invite to debate slavery curriculum

WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday rejected an invitation from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to discuss the state’s new Black history curriculum and said she will not be debating the topic of slavery with him.

DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, on Monday invited Harris to Florida to discuss the state’s new Black history curriculum after the vice president criticized it for backing guidelines that she said taught “revisionist history” about slavery in the United States.

Florida’s board of education approved new guidelines in July, including one for middle school students that states “instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

On Tuesday, Harris, made a previously-scheduled speech in the state, telling the audience, “Well, I’m here in Florida. I will tell you, there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”

Harris was in Orlando to deliver remarks at an African Methodist Episcopal Church event.

Harris has been on the offensive during a tour of nearly a dozen U.S. states in recent weeks, attacking DeSantis, telling Iowa healthcare workers to rebel against the state’s new restrictive abortion laws and rallying Latinos in Chicago to fight “extremist” Republicans.

DeSantis, who earlier this year blocked an advanced placement African American studies course from being taught to high schoolers in his state, accused the Biden administration of disparaging Florida and misinforming Americans on the subject.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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