Publishing company will offer free Black history e-books, especially in Florida

Ron DeSantis
AP Photo/John Locher, File
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition on Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas. DeSantis reiterated Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, that the state’s rejection of a proposed nationwide advanced African American studies course, saying it pushes a political agenda — something three authors cited in the state’s criticism accused him of doing in return.

A Chicago-based publishing house will offer free e-books focused on Black history after the College Board revised its Advanced Placement African American studies course earlier this month.

And Haymarket Books has Florida, specifically, in its sights.

The College Board’s revisions came after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) refused to allow the class in Florida high schools. In the revised course, the subjects of Black queer studies, intersectionality and activism, the reparations movement and Black scholars associated with critical race theory have been removed. “Black conservatism” was added as a potential research topic.

Now, Haymarket Books, a “radical publisher of politics, culture, current events,” said DeSantis and the “complicit College Board” have left it with no choice.

“The racist governor of Florida continues to escalate his attacks on the freedom to learn and teach history,” the publishing house said in a press release last week.

“We at Haymarket stand in solidarity with all those in Florida and across the country who are organizing to resist. We know that books can be dangerous to those in power, especially when they are in the hands of folks who are organizing to fight for liberation. That’s why we publish them. That’s why they’re trying to ban them,” the company added.

Haymarket Books will offer the following e-books for free to download: “From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation” by Keeanga Yamahtta, which explores why the Black Lives Matter movement is necessary; “Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice,” edited by Jesse Hagopian and Denisha Jones, which details how the Black Lives Matter movement has challenged institutional racism; and “1919” by Eve L. Ewing, a collection of poems depicting the Chicago race riots of 1919.

“Black people have always figured out ways to teach our history in spaces beneath, beyond, and betwixt the machinations of people like Ron DeSantis,” Ewing said. “The only thing he ever got right in his life was understanding how insurgent our stories really are, how threatening to the status quo of a nation built on theft.”

The company is also looking to provide Florida residents with more “radical books” to distribute to young people in the state.

These books could include any Haymarket-published works, which range in topics from abolition to Black politics to police and prisons to socialism and Marxism. 

“The struggle is long, but we are many,” the group said.

The College Board has been under heavy criticism for its revisions to the African American studies course, which it released on the first day of Black History Month.

Though David Coleman, the head of the College Board, told The New York Times that the changes were not made to bow to political pressure, DeSantis’s administration took credit for the move. 

“Thanks to @GovRonDeSantis’ principled stand for education over identity politics, the College Board will be revising the course for the entire nation,” DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin said on Twitter.

Florida’s Department of Education is now reviewing the revisions to ensure they follow state law, which restricts how topics such as racism can be taught in schools and prohibits any instruction that could make someone feel “personal responsibility” for historic wrongdoings because of their race, sex or national origin.

Tags Black history Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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