Florida faith leader: Black history toolkit gains interest outside the state

by | Oct 13, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — When the Rev. Rhonda Thomas decided to create a toolkit to help teach Black history outside the public school system — after Florida legislators approved revisions to its required instruction — she expected Black churches like her own would be the ones to use it.Thomas, the executive director of Faith in Florida, was correct but not entirely so: Some Florida congregations that aren’t predominantly Black are using her organization’s list of books, videos and documentaries, along with faith leaders from more than 20 other states.
What started in May as a state-focused response has attracted interest in a far wider stretch of the country than Thomas ever imagined. She hopes users of the suggested readings in the online toolkit will come away knowing more about Black history — including burnings of Black churches and massacres of Black communities that happened in her state, along with other Southern states.
“People often don’t look at Florida as even being a part of the South because they’re too busy looking at our tourism and entertainment and food,” she said in a Tuesday (Oct. 10) interview. “Florida is the South. Florida has always been impacted in ways of Southern behavior, and we have a history that needs to be shared.”
The online list includes books on slavery and slave narratives; articles on the Civil War; and documentaries, from “Eyes on the Prize” to “Trayvon Martin: 10 Years Later.” Clergy and lay people can use the resources in congregational settings such as Bible study classes fo …

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