TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A prominent civil rights attorney has threatened to sue the governor if the state bans the teaching of a controversial AP course in African American studies. At a rally and news conference in the state capital, Ben Crump announced the pending lawsuit Wednesday.
“We are here to inform the government. [Ron] DeSantis,” Crump told the large rotunda crowd.
He said his team and the three AP student plaintiffs will file a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court if the class remains blocked.
“College courses are not subject to censorship,” Crump said. “We think of AP courses as an extension of college courses.”
State officials say the rate is there at least six violations Florida’s Stop Awake Law. It’s a new law that bans the teaching of concepts like critical race theory and white privilege. However, students involved in the potential lawsuit worry that Florida is trying to whitewash black history.
“I can’t believe it’s 2023 and America is talking about censoring education,” said Elijah Edwards, one of the potential plaintiffs. “This is America, not a communist nation.”
A lawsuit is not a guarantee. If the state agrees and allows the course, nothing will happen. That seems possible, as the creators of the AP course told the College Board on Tuesday that the lesson is only a “pilot” and that its “official framework” will be released on February 1.
“If they can reconcile their competing interests to get this into classrooms in Florida, I have nothing to sue,” said one of Crump’s attorneys, Craig Whisenhunt.
Republican Party legal experts point out that the state already requires the teaching of African-American history. Attorney Trudy Smith believes the governor and the state Department of Education are on solid legal ground. Smith called the legal threat premature.
“It’s almost like putting the cart before the horse,” Smith said. “It’s propaganda to punish something that we don’t even know will be an offense in the future.”
The Florida Department of Education went further in a brief statement Wednesday afternoon.
“This threat is nothing more than a senseless publicity stunt,” said Florida Department of Education Communications Director Alex Lanfraconi.