'The Stop WOKE Act': HB 7, Race, and Florida's 21st Century Anti-Literacy Campaign

39 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2022 Last revised: 27 Nov 2023

See all articles by Katheryn Russell-Brown

Katheryn Russell-Brown

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2022

Abstract

Florida’s Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act (Stop WOKE) took effect July 1, 2022. The new law, known as House Bill 7 (HB 7), regulates how race issues can be taught in the K-20 educational system and imposes stiff sanctions for violations. This Article provides an incisive analysis of HB 7, with a particular focus on the law school classroom. It begins with a discussion of anti-literacy laws adopted during slavery and how these laws prohibited enslaved Blacks from learning to read and write. The historical analysis establishes that HB 7 is a modern-day iteration of anti-literacy laws. While early anti-literacy laws prohibited basic literacy, HB 7 prohibits teaching substantive literacy about race. Anti-literacy provides a framework for understanding the breadth and impact of HB 7. The Article investigates HB 7 through two prominent theoretical lenses, racial threat and critical race theory. These analyses predict and explain legislative responses such as HB 7. Through a series of hypotheticals, the far-reaching problems of HB 7 are revealed. This Article establishes the broad powers of HB 7. At full bore, HB 7 will drastically reduce race-related instruction and in doing so, it will likely delegitimize race scholarship and race scholars in the state of Florida.

Keywords: race, CRT, critical race theory, literacy, anti-literacy, HB 7, racial threat, education, slave codes

Suggested Citation

Russell-Brown, Katheryn, 'The Stop WOKE Act': HB 7, Race, and Florida's 21st Century Anti-Literacy Campaign (September 1, 2022). University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper, 22-34, New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 47, No. 2, 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4219891 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4219891

Katheryn Russell-Brown (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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