Bill requiring Black History, Holocaust education in Florida's school curriculum signed into law

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A bill requiring the Florida Department of Education to develop standards and curriculum to teach students about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and Black history was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis this week.

Specifically, the events of the Holocaust, the official Florida definition of anti-Semitism, and state African-American history are covered in the legislation that was sponsored in the Florida House by Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, and in the Florida Senate (Senate Bill 1628) by Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation.  Fine and Book worked with Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee, to craft the language.

“In this time of both increased anti-Semitism and heightened awareness of racial discrimination, it could not be more appropriate for House Bill 1213 to be signed into law,” said Rep. Fine. “I am proud that my colleagues and I – particularly, Democrat Senators Lauren Book and Randolph Bracy, who sponsored the companion bills in the Senate – demonstrated our commitment to these issues long before they dominated the nightly news.”

The bill says that each Florida school district must certify compliance with Holocaust instruction, name the second week in November "Holocaust Education Week," and establish a State African American History Task Force to develop a recommendation on how to teach students about the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots, which is when Black American was lynched for voting.

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“When the framers wrote the Constitution, they created our government in order to create a ‘more perfect union,” Rep. Fine said. “Those words were chosen carefully, noting that we were not already perfect, and the job of improving America would never be done.  In recognizing the shameful history of the Ocoee Election Day Riots, we deliver on that promise to constantly fight for that more perfect union."

Fine also added that anti-Semitism has again become "mainstream," and the importance of this legislation "has never been more clear."

"I never could have imagined that after six million Jews died in the Holocaust, it could be trivialized to the point that someone running for office could refer to a Jewish Legislator as a ‘pest’ that should be ‘exterminated.’  And I never could have imagined that Florida State University would allow a Holocaust-denier and unrepentant anti-Semite to help lead its student government.  We will never solve this scourge without teaching our youth about the unique and incomparable Holocaust.”

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