LTP News Sharing:

By Frances Presley Rice 



Photo: Frances Presley Rice, Lieutenant Colonel (USA Retired)

The truism that black history is American history is my philosophical North Star that guided me as I watched the February 1, 2022 Sarasota County School Board Meeting in Florida when it was broadcast on television and is now posted on YouTube.

During the public comment segment, I noted that my name and the book I co-authored with educator Sandra K. Yocum were mentioned by a speaker. As a result, I felt inspired to provide the following clarifying information about me and my black history work that is now part of Sarasota County’s public record.

Regarding my background, I am a retired lawyer and U. S. Army Lieutenant Colonel with 20 years of active service. I hold a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law; a Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco; and a Bachelor of Science degree from Drury University in Missouri.  Subsequent to my military service, I worked for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation as an advisor on the law of space exploration. I taught also Business Law for the European Division of the University of Maryland in Belgium.

I have researched black history since the 1960s and, after arriving in Sarasota in 1999, I endeavored to inspire our youth by sharing incredible stories about African Americans who, throughout our nation’s history, overcame obstacles and achieved success.

In 2015, I connected with educator Sandra K. Yocum who is white and shares my passion about uncovering hidden black history. We co-founded the nonprofit Yocum African American History Association (YAAHA) and co-wrote the book Black History 1619 – 201: An Illustrated and Documented African-American History. 

We are volunteers and all proceeds from book sales and our other black history educational activities are donated to YAAHA.

Here are remarks made about our book:

“Our Academy refers to this excellent and objective review of Black History that sheds light on many chapters of American history in clear, objective, and precise language backed up by thorough research and many compelling photos and individual stories. It enables real conversation and constructive thinking about race in this country instead of the propaganda that seeks racial division for economic and political gain. I encourage other schools to use it when developing their American History courses, particularly during Black History month, as it is a wealth of resources for lesson planning.”

Frank LaGrotteria, D.Min, Headmaster, Bridgeport International Academy

In addition to our resource history book, we provide lesson plans, PowerPoints, videos, Illustrations, and other resources to convey the breadth of black history.

These resources are impeccably sourced and cited to provide an unvarnished story of 400 years of black history.

The lesson plans are divided into four 100-year sections starting with 1619 and ending with 2019. Each of the plans is in PDF format, downloadable and ideal for homeschooling, middle and high school, and college level.

Our Curricula:

Curriculum for Lessons 1619-1719

Curriculum for Lessons 1719-1819

Curriculum for Lessons 1819-1919

Curriculum for Lessons 1919-Present

Click here to view all of YAAHA’s free lessons plans.

The mission of YAAHA is to broaden the knowledge of the cultural sector, educational community, and public by making available documented African American history. YAAHA’s vision is to have our documented African American history resources available in libraries, schools and online platforms with public access.

We believe that black history is American history and, thus, black history should not be a once-a-year occurrence where we revisit familiar leaders and the politics of slavery.

We believe that the hundreds of original and historically accurate graphs, maps, broadsides, and photographs we procured prevent the limited and stereotypical views of African American history.

We believe in equal opportunity, which involves the provision of a chance for everyone to compete equally, regardless of ethnicity or gender identification. We do not believe in “equity” that guarantees equal outcomes, which is an ideology rooted in Marxism.

Our beliefs lead us to support school choice for all students.

YAAHA does not embrace Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a suitable methodology for teaching black history.

Please note that the above information and below references were foremost in my mind as I observed the February 1, 2022 School Board Meeting.

The Black History Month presentation showcased the wonderful diversity of our Sarasota community. The audio of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inspiring words served as a testament to the amazing progress our nation has made concerning race relations.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was 19 years old at the time Dr. King made his speech in 1963 that remains one of the most famous in history. I spent my formative years in segregated Atlanta, Georgia, knew the King family and participated in civil rights protests. If racism were a barrier to success, I would still be living in poverty in Atlanta today.

Even though I grew up in poverty during the era of racial segregation and discrimination, I was not taught to hate white people or America. Instead, my parents and black teachers stressed the need for black children to assume responsibility for our own well-being, work hard to succeed and participate in efforts to improve race relations. We learned that, even with its flaws, America is the greatest country in the world, a country whose founding documents guarantee everyone an equal opportunity to succeed.

Given the above information, it is understandable why I was surprised by what transpired during the February 1, 2022 School Board Meeting after the Black History Month presentation.

Speakers alleged that the Equity Committee was established at the behest of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) member, a non-resident of Sarasota County, who later was appointed to be a member of that Committee. Reference is made to point 48:39 of the YouTube video.

An official announcement was made that the Equity Committee was, initially, allowed to operate in violation of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law, s. 286.011, F.S., commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law. This law provides a right of access to governmental proceedings of public boards or commissions at both the state and local levels. Please see point 50:44 of the YouTube video.

In light of the above pronouncement, I wish to highlight the legal principle “Ignorantia juris non excusat” that translates to “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Further, some speakers expressed grave concern that BLM has sway over Sarasota County’s official business regarding the education of children.

“The two most important questions are: who will teach the children and what they teach them?” ― Plato

The concerned speakers were apparently aware that BLM had posted and then removed from their website a statement that their organizers are avowed Marxists. Please see the article Like the Soviets, Black Lives Matter Purges Its History” by Andrew Olivastro and Mike Gonzalez.

Numerous reports have documented how BLM is a violent, criminal enterprise. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 574 riots took place across America between May 25 and July 31 of 2020 attributed to BLM. That report states that “more than 2,000 officers sustained injuries in the line of duty.”

The damage from riots and looting across the U.S., following the death of George Floyd, is estimated to be the costliest in insurance history – between $1 billion and $2 billion. A sample headline for those 2020 BLM riots per Axios: “Exclusive: $1 billion-plus riot damage is most expensive in insurance history.”

Please see the following related articles:

ESCAPING JUSTICE: Hundreds of BLM rioters, looters and vandals have charges DROPPED despite destruction from violent protests” by Aliki Kraterou.

Tax Exempt Organizations Funnel Millions to BLM Marxists” by Kelleigh Nelson.

BLM has $60M on hand — but who controls it is unclear, report shows” by Evan Simko-Bednarski.

The beginning of the community comment segment of the School Board Meeting can be viewed at point 54:15 of the YouTube video.

At that time, the speakers who were there to exercise their freedom of speech were informed that they would be ejected from the meeting and criminally prosecuted if they uttered words that the School Board members decided were, inter alia, demeaning.

Given that admonishment, it was curious to observe that no action was taken by the School Board members when some speakers demeaned a Hispanic man who was not in attendance and slimed America as systemically racist. Those speakers identified themselves as part of an organized, multi-county effort to influence decision making in Sarasota County. Because I am a member of one of the organizing entities that normally focuses on black history, the call-to-action notice “Black History Month at the School Boards” was sent to me by email.

Notably, as is revealed in the below references, the core of CRT is the belief that America is systemically racists with white people being inherently oppressors and people of color being perpetually oppressed.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  ― Abraham Lincoln

The Hispanic man who was demeaned during the School Board Meeting is state Senator Manny Diaz, Jr. He was slandered by having a bill he is sponsoring labeled “draconian.” Based on the definition of draconian, Diaz was being depicted as a cruel man who has proposed an excessively harsh and severe bill that, if enacted, would harm children. No effort was made by the defamers to cite provisions in the pending bill that would warrant the demonization of Diaz.

A review of the text of the proposed legislation, SB 148, also called the Individual Freedom Act, contains the following language:

“An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”

Note that the text does not prohibit causing individuals to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of being taught black history.

Instead, the text prohibits causing individuals to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress “on account of his or her race.”

According to his bio, Diaz was a teacher and coach at Miami Springs Senior High and Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High for 20 years, and was assistant principal at Hialeah-Miami Lakes for seven years. He was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2012, where he served on several education committees and chaired its PreK-12 Education Appropriations Committee. Elected to the Florida Senate in 2018, Diaz is currently the chairman of its Education Committee.

In a public statement, Diaz said that his bill is not about ignoring America’s “dark” history, but instead protecting people from being blamed for the sins of their forefathers.

“No individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by the virtue of his or her race or sex,” Diaz said. “No race is inherently superior to another race.”

Of particular note is the article by Hank Berrien “Indiana Educator Warns Parents: ‘We’re Lying’ About Not Teaching CRT, ‘Keep Looking’ ” that presents information from his first-hand experiences.

In his article, Berrien wrote:

“I’m the science coach and admin in the largest public school district in Indiana. I’m in dozens of classrooms a week, so I see exactly what we’re teaching our students…When we tell you that schools aren’t teaching Critical Race Theory, that it’s nowhere in our standards, that’s misdirection…We don’t have the quotes and theories as state standards per se; we do have Critical Race Theory in how we teach. We tell our teachers to treat students differently based on color; we tell our students that every problem is a result of ‘white men’ and that ‘everything Western Civilization built is racist,’ ‘Capitalism is a tool of white supremacy.’

“We call it ‘anti-racism’ so you feel bad if you disagree with our segregationist pedagogy. It’s taking advantage of kids’ vulnerability and parents’ inactivity to preen over social snake oil schemes designed to create division…Parents: When we tell you Critical Race Theory isn’t being taught in our schools, we’re lying. Keep looking.”

At a crucial point in the School Board Meeting, the pronouncement was made that, in Sarasota County, the principle of equal opportunity will be replaced with the principle of “equity.” Please see point 53:10 of the YouTube video.

References provided further below document how “equity” is a Marxist principle, which guarantees equal outcomes, rather than equal opportunity.

Notably, equal opportunity for all Floridians is guaranteed by the provision of the Constitution of The State of Florida that states:

Article I, Section 2: “Basic rights.—All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property. No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.”

Notably, our nation’s founding principles are embedded in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence that states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Scholars have written: “This bold assertion in our founding document insists that no one life is more valuable than the next. No individual has the authority to rule over or oppress another. Our rights are granted by our Creator and no man can take them away. When the government fails to protect our rights, it becomes an illegitimate ruler over what would otherwise be free people.”

“Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions – it only guarantees equality of opportunity.”  ― Irving Kristol

Information about the genesis of the notion of “equality of conditions,” or “equity” can be gleaned from the article “Critical Race Theory: What It Is and How to Fight It” by Christopher F. Rufo.

In that article, Rufo explains how Marxist scholars in the West “adapted their revolutionary theory to the social and racial unrest of the 1960s. Abandoning Marx’s economic dialectic of capitalists and workers, they substituted race for class and sought to create a revolutionary coalition of the dispossessed based on racial and ethnic categories.”

Rufo wrote also the following:

“Critical race theory is an academic discipline, formulated in the 1990s, built on the intellectual framework of identity-based Marxism. Relegated for many years to universities and obscure academic journals, over the past decade it has increasingly become the default ideology in our public institutions. It has been injected into government agencies, public school systems, teacher training programs, and corporate human resources departments in the form of diversity training programs, human resources modules, public policy frameworks, and school curricula.

“There are a series of euphemisms deployed by its supporters to describe critical race theory, including ‘equity,’ ‘social justice,’ ‘diversity and inclusion,’ and ‘culturally responsive teaching.’ Critical race theorists, masters of language construction, realize that ‘neo-Marxism’ would be a hard sell. Equity, on the other hand, sounds nonthreatening and is easily confused with the American principle of equality. But the distinction is vast and important. Indeed, equality—the principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, defended in the Civil War, and codified into law with the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of “1965—is explicitly rejected by critical race theorists. To them, equality represents ‘mere nondiscrimination’ and provides “camouflage” for white supremacy, patriarchy, and oppression.”

In my humble opinion, an effective strategy that can preserve our freedoms and protect our inherent right to equal opportunity is to reclaim Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream that people will be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

Other references:

Anti-Racism is Neither by Frederick M. Hess

The obscenity of segregating schoolchildren by race in the name of anti-racismby Post Editorial Board

The Constitutional Way to Defeat Cancel Culture by Mike Gonzalez

Woke school toolkit for concerned parents by The Manhattan Institute

Three nations that tried socialism and rejected it by Lee Edwards

Author: Frances Rice