A different take on history

A.P. Course on African American studies

Throughout many high school history curriculums, there is an adequate amount of teachings about the origins, trials, and tribulations of African Americans. Despite this, there are some students who desire to dive deeper into the rich history and ancestral origins of the African population. For these students, a new advanced placement College Board course has come to the forefront: A.P. (Advanced Placement) African American Studies. 

   For over a decade, the College Board team and over 300 various experts in African American related studies have worked tirelessly to build this new course from the ground up. 

   “Drawing from the expertise and experience of college faculty and teachers across the country, the course is designed to offer high school students an evidence-based introduction to African American studies,” the College Board website explained. 

   Evidently the time spent constructing this course was not wasted in light of over 200 institutions who are already committed to recognizing this course for college credit within their respective advising systems. 

   “AP African American Studies is designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college or university course in African American Studies and related courses, including Africana Studies, African Diaspora Studies, and Black Studies,” the College Board website described.

   The course is meant to not only challenge students, but to also enhance each student’s understanding in a variety of fields including literature, humanities, political science, and geography just to name a few. All the while, students will be able to divulge and assimilate the vital contributions and ancestry of the African American population.

   “AP African American Studies is an interdisciplinary course that examines the diversity of African American experiences through direct encounters with authentic and varied sources. Students explore key topics that extend from early African kingdoms to the ongoing challenges and achievements of the contemporary moment. Given the interdisciplinary character of African American studies, students in the course will develop skills across multiple fields, with an emphasis on developing historical, literary, visual, and data analysis skills. This course foregrounds a study of the diversity of Black communities in the United States within the broader context of Africa and the African diaspora,” the College Board website disclosed. 

   The aforementioned quote belongs to a 234 page course framework for the African American Studies course itself. The official course framework, project, and exam overview was released to the public in early February of this year, however, there were various leaks before the official release. 

   Within the framework, the course has been laid out into five units per the College Board website: Origins of the African Diaspora, Freedom, Enslavement and Resistance, The Practice of Freedom, and Movements and Debates. While each unit has different teaching points, the curriculum covers an impressively vast time period. 

   The first unit starts off with the strength and complexity of early African societies, the East African Empire, and early African Kingdoms. Roughly 20 weeks later, students in this class will be discussing diversity within Black communities and current Black identity, culture, and connection throughout the fourth and final unit before taking the exam with the hopes of earning college credit.

   Various supporters and advocates for African American studies are pleased by the arrival of the A.P. course, and are eager to see the value that the widespread teachings will have on American students. 

   “The value of pursuing African American studies is gaining knowledge and an understanding of the past and present situation of African-descended people in the United States. This discipline prepares students to critically examine, explore, and analyze the unique experiences of African-descended people,” Director of the Africana studies and anthropology programs at the University of Toledo, Angela M. Siner, explained. 

   While the African American Studies course itself has been highly praised by many, it has not been without  criticism. 

   One individual in particular, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has officially rejected the course on behalf of the state of Florida due to his opinionated perception of “six issues of concern” proposed by the framework of the course. 

   “Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. discussed the issue publicly for the first time at a news conference Monday. They argue that the course is a Trojan horse for “indoctrinating” students with a left-wing ideology under the guise of teaching about the Black experience and African American history (which is mandated in the state),” Marc Caputo, contributor for the NBC News website unfolded. 

   Countless critics of DeSantis, including the White House, have accused him of censorship for blocking the African American studies course in general. The six issues of concern that DeSantis and the state are rejecting the course for are the following: Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, Movement for Black Lives, Black Feminist Literary Thought, and The Reparations Movement and Black Struggle in the 21st Century. 

   Despite pushback – primarily from Florida and DeSantis – the A.P. course is making its pilot debut in 60 high schools across the United States, and the College Board has a set goal to have the course go completely mainstream by the fall semester of 2024. For the high school students who are interested in enrolling in the course, there are no prerequisite requirements. 

   For more inquiries about the emerging A.P. African American Studies course please visit https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap/how-ap-develops-courses-and-exams/pilot-ap-african-american-studies.