The Rev. Al Shaprton tells crowd, "Our children need to know the whole story."
CNN  — 

Hundreds of marchers, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and other activists, held a rally outside Florida’s state Capitol on Wednesday to protest Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration’s rejection of a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies.

The state last month rejected the proposed AP multidisciplinary study of the African American diaspora that includes literature, the arts, science, politics and geography. The DeSantis administration has said the course “lacks educational value” and violated state law.

“If you would have studied history long enough, you would have known to mess with us in education always ends in your defeat,” Sharpton told the crowd of marchers in Tallahassee.

“Our children need to know the whole story … to not only know how bad you were but to know how strong they are. They come from a people that fought from the back of the bus to the front of the White House.”

The event started at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, where the diverse crowd marched a short distance to the state Capitol building.

“Make note that we are all marching together,” said Sharpton, noting that the crowd included members of the LGBTQ, Native American and Latinx communities. “You should have left us alone. Now you have brought us all together.”

Sharpton said historical inflections points on racism and bigotry in the US always involved education, from slavery through Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Movement.

The marchers chanted slogans like, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ron DeSantis has got to go!” and “I’m Black and I’m proud!” Some carried signs with messages such as “Save our history” and “We will not be silenced.”

Shaia Simmons, a former teacher at the march, called the state’s rejection of the new course a “gross injustice” and a “slap in the face to all Americans.”

“Black history isn’t important to just Black people, it is important to everyone,” Simmons said. “It is the fabric of the country … For us to try to wipe that away or to negate the importance of it causes angst in our community. It’s not just the AP course. It is the whitewashing of African American history in this country. It is the inequitable treatment of African Americans right down to the funding in our educational institutions.”

CNN has reached out to DeSantis’ office and to Florida’s Department of Education for comment.

Martha Cummings said her family is interracial and that she attended the march because her daughter wanted to be heard.

“We value diversity,” Cummings said.

“It’s ridiculous that they’re not letting this one AP class be thought,” said her daughter, Izzy Cummings. “It affects us directly. It’ll change our future if we can’t learn about the past.”

The Florida Department of Education informed the College Board of its decision to reject the new course in a January 12 letter that later became public and drew widespread criticism from Black leaders in Florida as well as the White House.

DeSantis has said the state blocked the new course because it included the study of “queer theory” and political movements that advocated for “abolishing prisons.”

“That’s a political agenda,” DeSantis said last month at a news conference in Jacksonville. “That’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them when you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”

The education department said it had concerns about six topics of study in the yearlong course, such as the Movement for Black Lives, Black feminism and reparations. Many objections were tied to the inclusion of texts from modern Black thought leaders and history teachers, whose writings the DeSantis administration believes violate state laws.

Florida, under DeSantis, banned the teaching of critical race theory and passed new legislation last year barring instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.

The testing organization behind the new course last weekend accused the state Education Department of “slander” and spreading misinformation about it for political gain.

The College Board also admitted it “made mistakes in the rollout” of the course framework “that are being exploited,” according to a lengthy statement published Saturday. The board disputed how Florida officials – who have asked that the course be resubmitted for consideration after initially rejecting it – have characterized their dialogue and influence with the testing non-profit.

The College Board earlier this month released the official framework of the new Advanced Placement course on African American studies with many of the topics DeSantis objected to removed.