The Rev. Dr. L. Ronald Durham is the author of several books, including “We’re Not Crazy: America Has a Race Problem.” If we needed any further evidence to support this assertion, we need not look any further than Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature’s banning of African American studies from our classrooms.

“Ron DeSantis says that these courses are not suitable, that they ‘lack educational value,'” Dr. Durham explains. “His claims are an open attack to undermine African-American history. What DeSantis knows is that knowledge is power. If he can diminish knowledge, if he stops a people from knowing their history, then he has dumbed down a substantial portion of our population. They won’t know who they are, or where they came from. Without knowing, he has then created an entire society with no sense of what they can accomplish based on the history of their ancestors.”

Dr. Durham stands with a long line of those who have fought hard for African American studies to be taught in the classroom. He acknowledges the hard work and sacrifice of those who have fought before him and with him. “For those who have fought long, it was a major accomplishment to have the larger society recognize the value that African Americans have contributed to the undergirding of the foundation of this country. Ordinary people must now express their own outrage that a whole segment of society is being undermined, and their history erased by what these people are doing in our school system.”

He sees this problem as not isolated here in Florida. “What Ron DeSantis has started here in Florida has started to take roots now in several Southern states. They’re banning books, censoring teaching, and having curriculum taken out of class.” He also doesn’t believe this movement started in Florida.

He believes that what we are seeing is a backlash to a protest movement that has been taking place for the last decade and is loosely described as Black Lives Matter. “In the summer of 2020, many people, including many white people, took to the streets to protest police violence. Since this time, a political movement, led by the twice impeached, twice indicted, disgraced former President, Donald Trump, has now moved to state houses and legislatures.”

“It is essentially an effort to stop the reading, discussion, or teaching about the history of anti-racist struggles in this country and the contemporary movement for racial justice. So what’s behind this current political attack is an effort to stem any further change in this country that will address the long-standing and enduring problem of structural racism that exists in the United States.”

What concerns Dr. Durham is that some people may not look at this issue as being as important as other political issues. “But black people have always been the canary in the coal mine for the fascist underpinning of this society.” The only way that he sees to address this ill is through education. “We must see what is happening around us every single day. It is an affront to anyone who wants to hold the importance of their place in history and not have their history white-washed to appease someone who may feel bad about it. This attacks the body, the mind, and the soul of the African American society, and while this is a fight that started about one AP course, it very well could envelope other cultures that have also been marginalized, and if we’re not careful, our Japanese, Asian, LGBTQ+ and the Jewish community will be next on these legislative hit-lists.”

To hear the Rev. Dr. L. Ronald Durham speak, attend the Speakers Series, “Diversity in Florida’s Education System.” June 17th at 10:00 a.m. at Rinker Environmental Learning Center 230 E. Michigan Avenue, DeLand.”