At Florida’s only public HBCU, students are wary of political influence on race education

Written By Sharon Johnson

A core mission of Florida A&M University from its founding over a century ago has been to educate African Americans. It was written into the law that established the school along with another college, in Gainesville, reserved for white students.

At Florida’s only public historically Black university, some students now fear political constraints might get in the way of teaching parts of their history.

A law signed last spring by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, blocks public colleges from using taxpayer money on diversity programs. It also forbids instruction of theories that “systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.”

The new law, part of broader GOP efforts to rein in campus efforts on equity and inclusion, has spurred protests on campus. Some students say they are watching for signs the new guidance will affect teaching of topics related to race and American history.

Chad Preston, a senior political science major, said he worries some viewpoints will be silenced.

“We deserve the same level of education that all these other states are getting. We deserve the same information,” he said.