Since 2021, Florida has passed legislation that radically redefines how educators address race-related topics in the university classroom. Two laws in particular, HB 7 (Stop WOKE Act) and HB 999, which outlaws DEI programs at Florida universities, have led the charge. The goals of this Article are three-fold. First, to demonstrate how HB 7 and HB 999 have created a devasting and powerful educational force in Florida, a force that diminishes certain forms of racial discussion and inquiry in the college classroom. Second, to show the direct link between these laws and antebellum anti-literacy laws. The historical moments that separate enslavement-era anti-literacy laws and the passage of HB 7 and HB 999 are centuries apart. However, the goals are the same: To remove critical race narratives from the public education curriculum. Third, to detail the broad range of people, including educators and students, who are harmed and silenced by these laws. Race-related scholarship, which has been an integral part of race-focused courses, is on the chopping block as well. The range of harms caused by these laws is also explored. Once the pieces are connected, it is evident that HB 7 and HB 999 pose a mammoth threat to historical and contemporary knowledge about race. Part I provides an overview of the texts of HB 7 and HB 999. Part II focuses on the ways in which these laws marginalize and denigrate race scholarship. Part III examines how the Florida legislation diminishes the efforts of race scholars. Part IV shows how ignorance about U.S. race relations and race history creates danger for African Americans. Part V employs the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause and applies it to Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program. This framework amplifies and crystalizes the vast and unremedied harms caused by HB 7 and HB 999.
Fordham Urban L. Rev. (Forthcoming)(2024)