Black churches in Florida are stepping in after the state banned AP African-American history courses.
We “will teach our own history,” says Tony F. Drayton, St. James Church’s lead pastor. According to historians, this isn’t the first time that Black churches have gotten involved in the fight for civil rights, and denying students the ability to learn about Black history definitely qualifies.
The church coalition, Faith in Florida (FIF), which advocates on behalf of social justice, created an “online toolkit which includes books, documentaries, and videos related to Black history,” reports USA Today. On their website, they declare that “Black History is American History!”
“We have such a captive audience. From the pulpit, we have to be as woke as possible,” Drayton, who was one of the toolkit’s developers, said. “I’m going to use that word intentionally.”
Education reporter Danielle Prieur during NPR’s Morning Edition, explained how the “toolkit is not a curriculum, but a guide with recommended books, documentaries to watch and articles to read. It covers the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade through the Civil Rights Movement up to the killing of George Floyd.”
“Well, the church is going to always be an educational institution – period,” Pastor Sharon Riley said. “We teach people how to live their lives, how to raise their families, how to plan for their future. We teach. That’s what we do.”
Even churches that don’t have a majority Black congregation have vowed to teach Black history. Rhonda Thomas, Executive Director of FIF said, “Once this toolkit went out, we also had churches that are led by white faith leaders and Muslims register to teach Black History.”