Meet Frances Rice, the Right-Wing Activist Shaping Florida’s African American History Standards

Last week, the Florida Department of Education approved new social studies standards for public schools that have been widely criticized for their deficiencies and right-wing bias in teaching about African American history.

As CNN reported, the standards were the result of “new legislation under Gov. Ron DeSantis that bars instruction in schools that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.” The new standards require that students be taught, among other things, that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

In response to the criticism, two members of Florida’s African American History Standards committee issued a statement defending the standards, and the name of one of those members caught our attention: Frances Presley Rice, a fringe right-wing activist who, in 2016, served on the “National Diversity Coalition for Trump.”

Right Wing Watch had written about Rice years ago when she was chairman of the National Black Republican Association, an organization that once ran radio ads and erected billboards falsely claiming that civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. “was a Republican.”

In 2008, the NBRA produced a series of radio ads declaring that “the Democratic Party is a racist party” and attacking then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for being “an arrogant elitist who turned his back on poor blacks and his own country.”

In the wake of Obama’s election, the NBRA took it upon itself to issue a “White Guilt Emancipation Declaration” in which the organization unilaterally declared that all “white American citizens are now, henceforth and forever more free of White Guilt” because the nation had elected “a socialist who does not share the values of average Americans and will use the office of the presidency to turn America into a failed socialist nation.”

But perhaps nothing better exemplifies the warped view of history promoted by Rice and the NBRA than her attempt to defend the GOP’s infamoussouthern strategy,” a political tactic that stoked racial fears, tensions, and discord in order to energize and mobilize white southern voters on behalf of Republican candidates.

But that is not how Rice tells it. In her fictional telling, the “southern strategy” was really about reaching out to “fair-minded people in the South” who opposed “discriminating against Blacks.”

“Those fair-minded ones who migrated to the Republican Party did so,” Rice claimed. “They joined us; we did not join the racists.”

Given that Florida’s African American history standards are being shaped by someone like Rice who promotes such nonsense, it really should not be a surprise that they are such a disaster.

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