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Rep. Frederica Wilson's panel calls for campaign to ensure accuracy of Black history taught in class

Rep. Frederica Wilson panel examines changes to school history curriculums
Rep. Frederica Wilson panel examines changes to school history curriculums 02:21
US Rep. Frederica Wilson
US Rep. Frederica Wilson CBS News Miami

WASHINGTON -- A South Florida Congressional member on Friday called for citizens to pressure education leaders into preserving accurate history.

U.S. House Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., organized the panel "Stay Woke Africans in America: Preserve our History," which included Lonnie Bunch, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute and Florida International University Professor Emeritus Dr. Marvin Dunn.

Dozens of Miami-Dade County Public School students considered at-risk and mentored by Rep. Wilson's "5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project" listened to the panel curious about the future of Black history education.

"Wake up," Rep. Wilson told the crowd inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. "Wake up and teach your history. Learn your history and preserve your history."

Dunn shared concerns about what he and the panel called attacks on accurate history.

"If we don't teach these young people our history, it will be lost," he said to the crowd.

Others pointed out changes to school system's curriculums that are unfolding around the country, including Florida.

"Nothing was removed, including what we would continue to say is the good, the bad and the ugly in American history," Manny Diaz, Jr., Florida's education commissioner, said during a July state Board of Education meeting.

Two months ago, he said his staff added topics to new state education standards that included guidance to teach "how slaves developed skills which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit."

"This is something that is going to set the norm for other states when it comes to African-American history," Diaz, Jr. said in July.

During the state board's most recent meeting last month, Diaz, Jr. said the state "will continue to lead" the nation in implementing policies that best support and prepare students for the future.

Said Wilson: "We have had African-American history on the back burner for too long and we have go to find a way to create a movement across these United States and especially across Florida to make it a priority."

This push came as the Miami-Dade County Public School District asked parents to vet a list of potential social studies textbooks. The district plans to hear public comments on the list next Wednesday.

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