The links, first highlighted by the Twitter account Miami Against Fascism, follow an exposé on Florida mom Daily Salinas by the Miami Herald. In an interview with the Herald, Salinas said she “is not for eliminating or censoring any books,” but wants materials to be appropriate and for students “to know the truth” about Cuba.
Salinas’ complaints led a Florida school to restrict access to The Hill We Climb, a book adaptation of the poem Gorman recited at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, Florida also pulled two other titles—The ABCs of Black History, and Love to Langston—from its elementary school section after a single complaint from Salinas, who has two children at the school, the Miami Herald first reported.
The complaints, reviewed by The Daily Beast, reveal that Salinas reported the books for things like “CRT and gender idiology [sic],” and “indoctrination.”
“Is not educational and have indirectly hate messages,” Salinas wrote of The Hill We Climb, which she incorrectly described as being authored by Oprah Winfrey (the book features a foreword by Winfrey). One of the pages Salinas complained about reads: “Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed / A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”
A committee at the school decided to reshelve the books in the library’s middle school section, according to meeting minutes viewed by The Daily Beast, despite the books being recommended for younger readers.
Salinas, who filed complaints against five books, appears to be connected to multiple far-right organizations, attending events with Moms for Liberty and the Proud Boys.
Salinas did not return requests for comment. The Miami-Dade Moms for Liberty chapter did not immediately return a request for comment.
Salinas was removed by security from a Miami-Dade school board meeting in July 2022, according to video of the event, during an intervention by Moms For Liberty. The group disrupted the meeting to protest two sex education textbooks that had been previously approved by the board. Following petitions from parents, the board voted 5-4 to remove the books, effectively leaving the district without instruction materials for sex education.
An avid supporter of Ron DeSantis, Salinas worked as a volunteer on his “Education Agenda Tour” in August 2022, according to social media posts reviewed by The Daily Beast. That summer, DeSantis traveled the state boosting conservative candidates in school board elections and lambasting schools “indoctrinating” children.
However, Salinas’ politics appear to have gone beyond the right wing of the Republican party, veering into extremism and antisemitism.
In March of this year, Salinas shared a Facebook post entitled “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” which included a series of anti-Semitic tropes about an alleged Jewish conspiracy to control the world. Salinas appears to have deleted the post on Wednesday, after it was flagged by the group Miami Against Fascism on Twitter. After the deletion, she posted a picture of an armed Israeli Defense Force soldier in front of a tank, with the words, “People never seen this.I love my Jewish people.”
Salinas, a registered Republican, appeared to become more politically active during the COVID pandemic, according to a review of her social media. In October 2020, Salinas was interviewed briefly on a segment by PBS Newshour about Florida voters.
“My biggest fear is, they talk about the Democratic Party. They talk about socialism, socialism and communism going in the same way,” Salinas said. She told PBS she had fled Cuba for the United States when she was 21 years old.
“The reason why we came here, I remember, I was little, and I say I need to live. It’s too much oppression and the dictator. So I don’t want this for my kids. I want my kids [to] keep their freedom,” she told the program.
In August 2021, Salinas attended a protest against masks in Miami-Dade schools, where she was photographed standing next to Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys. Tarrio had already been implicated in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, for which he was later convicted of seditious conspiracy. (Salinas has shared posts indicating she believes Jan. 6 defendants are political prisoners.)
Just over a year later, Salinas attended another rally organized by the Proud Boys in support of Christoper Morzon, a far-right extremist nicknamed the “Cuban Confederate.” At the protest in November, 2022, Salinas can be seen wearing a Ron DeSantis T-shirt and hat.
A month earlier, Morzon was physically assaulted in Hialeah, Florida, ending up in hospital. Immediately afterwards, Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attack was politically motivated and that Morzon had been out canvassing for Rubio’s campaign. However, an incident report from the Hialeah Police Department made no mention of a political motive.
Nonetheless, right-wing groups rallied around Morzon, despite his history of racist and white supremacist beliefs. Morzon took part in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which ended in the death of an anti-fascist protester. He was previously a member of the League of the South, a designated hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Morzon claimed to have resigned from the group in 2021 and disavowed his former views.) Salinas was also part of a select group of right-wing activists pictured with Morzon shortly after his release from hospital.
A review of Salinas’ social media posts reveal her involvement in other right-wing campaigns. In October 2022, she took part in a rally outside the Miami-Dade School Board offices with Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF), a conservative advocacy group described by its critics as “Christian nationalist”. CCDF is linked to the Turning Point USA and Alliance Defending Freedom, the right-wing group beyond numerous anti-LGBT bills across the U.S.
Salinas attended the protest wearing a black t-shirt with the words “American Patriot’ emblazoned across it.
Salinas’ complaints against Gorman’s book are characteristic of a wave of attempted book bans across the country, spearheaded by conservative groups and a cohort of hyper-zealous activists; a May analysis by the Washington Post of 1,000 book challenges found that 11 people were responsible for most of the complaints.
Despite her disdain for Gorman and Langston Hughes’ poetry, there is one book for children that Salinas promotes on her social media: The Kid’s Guide to Ron DeSantis by Mike Huckabee—available for just $1.