Florida school district cancels civil rights seminar as educators face a 'climate of fear' and censorship

A professor’s civil rights history seminar for teachers was canceled by a Florida school district due to concern that the professor was endorsing Critical Race Theory (CRT). But according to NBC News, the professor's lecture had nothing to do with CRT.

J. Michael Butler's seminar, titled, “The Long Civil Rights Movement,” claims that the civil rights movement began long before Martin Luther King Jr.

“There’s a climate of fear, an atmosphere created by Gov. Ron DeSantis, that has blurred the lines between scared and opportunistic,” Butler told NBC News.

“The victims of this censorship are history and the truth,” Butler said. “The end game is they’re going to make teaching civil rights into ‘critical race theory,’ and it’s not.”

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But a spokesperson for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he had nothing to do with the seminar's cancelation.

“Critical Race Theory and factual history are two different things. The endless attempts to gaslight Americans by conflating the two are as ineffective as they are tiresome,” Christina Pushaw said in an email. “So just to be clear, mixing up ‘teaching history’ with ‘teaching CRT’ is dishonest.”

As NBC News points out, less than 24-hours after the cancellation, the Florida Senate advanced legislation to block public schools and private businesses from making people feel “discomfort” when they’re taught about race. According to NBC, there is "scant evidence that CRT is taught in Florida public schools."

According to Florida school district superintendent Debra Pace, the seminar was initially canceled over COVID-19 concerns, but she later became concerned about the content of the seminar.

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“We needed an opportunity to review them prior to the training in light of the current conversations across our state and in our community about critical race theory,” she said, adding that the district only received a summary of the seminar. “I am mindful of the potential of negative distractions if we are not proactive in reviewing content and planning its presentation carefully."

Butler insists that his seminar is "all fact-based instruction."

"This is not theory-based. This is not indoctrination," he said, adding that the Florida Senate's legislation “makes it so that any topic that falls under the rubric can be labeled as potentially critical race theory.“

“And the end result is that any teacher training any educational program can be canceled, postponed, stonewalled so that it never happens,” he said.

Read more at NBC News.