An open letter to Education Commissioner Diaz

Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr.

Florida State Board of Education 

Dear Commissioner Diaz: 

We are praying fervently for the safety of our teachers, students, bus drivers, administrators, parents, all school officials and personnel. Sir, God is able.

Furthermore, we are writing you to request your positive responses to our concerns. Sir, many faith leaders, civil rights groups and supporters of public education are asking you and the State Board of Education to reverse your decision as it relates to teaching the Advanced Placement African History Course to hundreds of Florida students who have an intellectual interest in enrolling in this high level course for college credit and critical thinking. Sir, after much debate, dispute and controversy, you made the correct decision to reverse your previous decision to not teach the Advanced Placement psychology course. Mr. Commissioner, to not teach the AP African American course in our opinion is biased, prejudiced and narrow- minded. 

Also, on last Wednesday, August 2, 2023, at the Florida General Baptist Convention, Incorporated’s Congress of Christian Education held in Orlando, Florida, over two hundred pastors and concerned citizens stood together at a press conference to reject the state’s Task Force’s revised African American History K-12 Curriculum. We adamantly, obstinately, tenaciously and strongly join with thousands of Floridians asking you and Florida’s Board of Education to delete the portion of the curriculum that incorrectly requires instruction for middle school students to include “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” 

Mr. Commissioner, Mr. Governor, enslaved people didn’t benefit from slavery; the slave master did. This is an old racist propaganda and bigoted distortion that has been used for centuries to justify the institution of slavery. Sir, researchers, scholars, historians, theologians and members of your work group want this disingenuous, treacherous, shameful, language and other falsehoods to be immediately removed from the black history curriculum. 

Moreover, we are appalled, alarmed, and aghast that the Florida Department of Education would teach the Prager University curriculum. Sir, this curriculum is not for students of the 21st century; this curriculum is propaganda and indoctrination. This curriculum is backward thinking and not forward reaching. This curriculum is senseless, moon-struck and unsound. Sir, the great students of Florida deserve better. 

We want to applaud you for standing up against the Moms for Liberty who wanted to ban mental health counseling from the public schools. We don’t have time to discuss how ridiculous, ludicrous and absurd this idea is. We need mental health counseling in our schools in these stressful times. 

Finally, we will have a “Let Us Reason Together“ peaceful protest on the pavement at the Department of Education, this coming Thursday, August 10, 10:00 am, to continue to emphasize to you and this state that we expect our concerns to be addressed justly and expeditiously. 


Dr. RB Holmes, Jr. Pastor, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church President, Tallahassee Chapter, National Action Network 

Mutake Akbar Attorney Mutake Akbar President, Tallahassee Chapter, NAACP