Black Churches in Florida create online toolkit to teach Black History

Black Churches in Florida create online toolkit to teach Black History
A sign that his church in Fort Pierce, Florida, was interested in learning more about Black history was exactly what Pastor Kenneth Johnson hoped for when he saw the 30 or so people who logged on to hear about the trans-Atlantic slave trade on Wednesday night.

The Friendship Missionary Baptist Church scheduled a series of online classes for this fall, the first of which lasted an hour.

There was no sermon. It would have met all requirements for a valid class, according to Johnson. "We don't need the government's approval to teach our history."

More than 200 primarily Black churches in Florida are taking steps to teach Black history, in part due to what religious leaders are calling the constrained and "watered-down" versions that schools must teach in accordance with the state's new standards. Friendship Missionary is one of those churches. Instead, using a new set of Black history teaching resources, pastors are delivering uncensored lessons throughout Sunday school, Bible studies, and sermons.

The online toolbox was developed by Faith in Florida, a group of churches that promote social justice issues, and it contains books, movies, and videos about Black history. The initiative, which was started in July, intends to oppose state attempts to control Black history lessons. Florida is one of many states where attempts to limit some Black history lessons are being led by lawmakers who lean right.

The executive director of Faith in Florida, Rhonda Thomas, said, "We have a responsibility to ensure that our history is not obliterated or watered down and that it be told. "It took place. It's the past.

Black churches have historically addressed educational gaps in their communities, according to historians, so this is not a new function for them. But many people asserted that these lessons are more important than ever.

According to Howard Robinson, a historian at Alabama State University in Montgomery, "It's not crazy to think that a (Black) church is going to be able to provide educational opportunities where they see public institutions failing."

(Pictured Above: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis)

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida and a Republican, has spearheaded state-wide initiatives to support laws that limit the way that subjects like race, sexual orientation, and gender are taught in schools and colleges.

DeSantis signed a law earlier this year that forbade the use of state money to encourage diversity and inclusion initiatives at public universities. He claimed in May that "this has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda, and that is wrong."

The College Board's Advanced Placement African American Studies course is likewise prohibited in Florida. High school students who successfully complete advanced placement classes can frequently receive college credit. African American history is already taught in schools, according to state officials. In addition to criticizing the inclusion of courses on the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, Black feminism, and reparations, they claim that some of the course material violates state law.

For more feedback, the Florida Department of Education was suggested by DeSantis' office to USA Today. The department didn't answer right away.

In addition to teaching from the Acts of the Apostles at Bible study last week, Smith also discussed the difficulties LaVon Bracy endured as the first African American student to graduate from Gainesville High School in the 1960s when the school integrated.

Because of the controversy surrounding racial issues in Florida, he too looked to the toolkit for assistance and purposefully began with the subject of injustices.

Smith and other clergy members claimed to be utilizing the toolkit as a blueprint for lesson ideas. About a dozen subjects are covered in the toolkit, such as "Africa to America," which includes works about the slave trade, and "Racial Terrorism and Civil Unrest," which has materials on the Civil Rights Movement. It gives suggestions for books, movies, documentaries, and other materials about Black history.

Smith intends to reach more people by using other channels and virtual services in addition to the 100 churchgoers he instructed last week. He expressed disappointment that state leaders limited what history teachers can teach about Black people.

We can't focus on the things they claim we are incapable of, he remarked. The youngsters will learn it in church, if nowhere else.

It is the responsibility of more religious and community leaders, according to Tony F. Drayton, senior pastor of St. James Church in Riviera, close to West Palm Beach, to teach African American history.

"We have such a captive audience," remarked Drayton, who worked on creating the toolbox. We must preach with the most wokeness possible. I'm going to say that word on purpose.

Both experts and novices in Black history are intended to benefit from the toolbox. The timing and significance of topics, such as criminal justice and Black women's leadership, were taken into consideration when selecting topics.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Leave A Comment
    1 out of ...