Publisher offers free Black history books to fight ‘racist’ Florida governor Ron DeSantis

A graphic showing a cut-out image of a pair of hands holdinga Kindle and behind it are covers of Black history ebooks. The background is a green-tinted photo of books on bookshelves

A nonprofit book publisher based in Chicago will offer free Black history ebooks across the US in defiance of “racist” Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to ban an African American studies course.

Haymarket Books announced its plans to make ebooks focusing on Black history free and available to all on 2 February. 

The initiative has been set up after the Florida Department of Education informed the College Board of its decision to ban an advance placement (AP) course on African American studies in the state on 12 January.

In a statement to The Hill, DeSantis’ office identified the Department of Education’s key concerns with the course; including the topics of intersectionality, Black queer studies, the Black Lives Matter movement, Black feminist literary thought, the reparations movement and Black struggle in the 21st century.

DeSantis went on to cite queer theory as a reason for banning the course altogether. 

Haymarket Books said it made the decision to offer the free ebooks due to “the racist governor of Florida” continuing “to escalate his attacks on the freedom to learn and teach history”. 

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A photo of Florida governor Ron DeSantis wearing a dark suit, white shirt and red tie standing in a room with the background showing books on shelves
Despite widespread criticism, the Florida governor has stood firm on his African American studies ban. (Roll Call/Douglas Graham)

“We at Haymarket stand in solidarity with all those in Florida and across the country who are organising to resist,” the company said in a statement.

“We know that books can be dangerous to those in power, especially when they are in the hands of folks who are organising to fight for liberation. That’s why we publish them. That’s why they’re trying to ban them.”

Haymarket Books said it will also directly distribute “radical books for free” to young people in Florida in a bid to fight against DeSantis’ ban. 

“The struggle is long, but we are many,” Haymarket Books added.

Books being offered on a free-to-download basis include: From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation by Keeanga Yamahtta, Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice, edited by Jesse Hagopian and Denisha Jones, and 1919 by Eve L Ewing. 

Author Eve L Ewing said of the project: “Black people have always figured out ways to teach our history in spaces beneath, beyond, and betwixt the machinations of people like Ron DeSantis. 

“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.”

Young people who would like to access the ebooks for free are urged to get in touch with the publisher by filling out this form.