From Art History to Statistics, College Board, an organization focused on promoting college readiness, has created many advanced placement classes to give students the opportunity to acquire college credit while furthering their education. Therefore, it is nothing less than exciting to hear that a new course, AP African American Studies, is finally having its long-awaited debut on the list of available AP classes. This course, which has been in the making for a decade, is currently undergoing its “pilot phase” where hundreds of high schools are offering the course to see how students interact with the material.
Contents of the Course
In detail, AP African American Studies focuses on discussions of the African diaspora. Divided into four units, the framework for this AP course will review:
“Origins of the African Diaspora”, focusing on early African kingdoms and empires.
“Freedom, Slavery, and Resistance”, focusing on the transatlantic slave trade and the Civil War.
“The Practice of Freedom”, focusing on reconstructionism and Black women’s rights.
“Movement and Debates”, focusing on the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power Movement.
*Please visit this link for the framework in detail
Support and Discourse
Many high schools are either piloting the course or planning to implement it in the near future. This “pilot phase” will extend to 2025, where in spring of that year, College Board will officially administer exams for AP African American Studies. That being said, gaining support from college institutions and universities is necessary to ensure the course’s success. As of February 2023, 200+ institutions have already shown their support for the new AP course by planning on making it an accredited course for their institution. If successful in its pilot phase, the implementation of this course can create further awareness of Black history of the U.S’ third largest racial population.
Although many are in favor of the introduction of AP African American Studies, it has not been without its criticisms. On February 1st of this year, College Board released an updated framework of the course. In this, we see that “Black conservatism” became added to the list of possible topics for students to research. However, Black Lives Matter and intersectionality, topics that were once required in the original framework, were also made optional. David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, voiced his disapproval for this decision as these revisions were “reinforcing a system of ‘segregated education’ in the country”.
Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, also denounced the course for the reason that the outline included topics such as the Black Lives Matter Movement and Black Panther Party. While many of the topics mentioned in DeSantis’ complaints have been revised, College Board emphasizes that their revisions were to dedicate more time into studying contemporary topics rather than “watering down” the material to fit three weeks. Additionally, they comment that the belief that Florida’s complaints to the framework led to its revisions is “ridiculous” because they are trying to claim “political victory” over revisions that they did not influence.
In recent years, the Black Lives Matter movement experienced great momentum with the George Floyd protests and growing public disapproval of police brutality towards African Americans. Now more than ever, the implementation of AP African American Studies can be groundbreaking as it would allow more students to understand Black history and create more discourse about Black issues.
By Jess Rivera