With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Florida Professor: I was Fired for Teaching about Racism

Sam Joeckel, a longtime English professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, says his contract was terminated early after an accusation that his lessons on racial justice were "indoctrinating" students.

For years, Joeckel's class included a unit on the Black experience in the U.S., where he touched on the work of historic figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, as well as long-standing racial disparities in mass incarceration and educational attainment, as WLRN previously reported.

But recently, administrators took issue with Joeckel's curriculum, saying that they received a complaint from a student's parent about his lessons related to race, the professor said. Joeckel's contract was subsequently put under review last month. A few days ago, the instructor learned his contract would be terminated early.

"They did this for a clear reason: my decision to teach and speak about racial justice," he wrote in a statement on Instagram on Thursday.


The fallout at the university comes during a campaign by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis against what he calls "woke indoctrination" in education.

During his tenure, DeSantis has worked to set limits on how the topics of race and gender are discussed in K-12 education, as well as ban programs promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in state colleges. Though Palm Beach Atlantic University is a private institution, Joeckel believes the school has been impacted by the state's political climate.

"The timing of this is not a coincidence as we are dealing with an 'anti-woke' crusade from Governor DeSantis and other far-right politicians and activists," he wrote on social media. "I believe this goes against the Christian beliefs that I hold closely, and that PBA claims to hold closely."

"I most definitely think that what is happening here is this 'anti-woke ideology' is now infiltrating even a Christian university like Palm Beach Atlantic University," he told WLRN earlier this month.

Read entire article at NPR