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Gov. Ron DeSantis has faced criticism over his decision to reject an Advanced Placement course on African American studies to be taught in Florida high schools. February is Black History Month, and we asked educators, historians, and community members to weigh in on why teaching the full scope of history is more important than ever. We’re sharing what they had to say, in their own words.

She's speaking out against book bans, as Sarasota considers removing a book on racism

A mom with gray hair and a flamingo T-shirt sits in front of a studio mic
Kerry Sheridan
WUSF Public Media
Kia Brand is among the parents who say the book should stay on district shelves.

The Sarasota school board is hearing a final appeal Tuesday by a Venice mother who wants to ban a book from school libraries.

The Sarasota school board is set to decide on Tuesday whether to ban a book about racism from school libraries, after a challenge from a parent in Venice who likened it to allowing books promoting Nazi ideology in schools.

The book is "Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism and You," by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. It's No. 6 on the American Civil Liberties Union's top 10 list of most challenged books.

All month, we are hearing from listeners about their views on the importance of learning Black history. Today we hear from a local mother who is concerned about the prospect of removing books from schools.

"My name is Kia Brand, and I am a parent here in Sarasota County. My daughter attends middle school here. I am a stay-at-home mom. But I am also the president of parent involvement at her school, and on our school advisory council.

"You know, growing up, in our history classes, we didn't really learn that much for Black history. It was Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, and that was kind of it. With my daughter coming up in school, it's kind of the same.

"Watching what has been happening across America, and here, especially in Florida, with Florida being the second state with the most banned books, knowing that Sarasota, while we may be a little bit behind the curve, we are definitely — now as we can see — starting to have challenges, and I'm afraid that if this book does get banned, then more challenges will come forward.

An image of the book's cover on the side of a building, with the header Amazon's best books of 2020
SCREENSHOT: www.ibramxkendi.com/stampedbook
An image of the book cover from Ibram X. Kendi's website

"The name of the book is "Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You." It was originally — or the adult version of the book is "Stamped From The Beginning." This book is actually an adapted version of it for sixth to 12th graders.

"It was just good to be able to read the book, and, you know, read about people that I really didn't know a lot about, like Angela Davis. I didn't know about all the things that she's done for women and prison reform. And, you know, just being able to learn more about Black history that I definitely would not have known had I not read the book.

"It's funny to me, they say [it's about] parents' rights. And it really is taking away rights from a large group of parents.

"I always have encouraged my daughter to read. One of the things that I've always told her is that I'll never say no to a purchase of a book. And her bookshelf, you know, we've always built a library. And when I found out about this book, I purchased it and told her when I was done reading it —because obviously I was reading it so I was informed before I go to this meeting to support the book staying in our schools — I told her that I would pass it on to her.

"And I think it's really important that our students have access to books in our school libraries, because a lot of students don't have access outside of school."

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.
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