For the first time since 2014, the College Board is introducing a new AP course: AP African American Studies.
This new course will be piloted in 60 schools across the country, starting this fall. Students enrolled in the pilot course will take the full course as well as a mock exam, but will not receive credit from the College Board.
Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and instruction at the College Board, stated that the course “will introduce a new generation of students to the amazingly rich cultural, artistic, and political contributions of African Americans. We hope it will broaden the invitation to Advanced Placement and inspire students with a fuller appreciation of the American story.”
AP African American studies will feature an in-depth look at the civil rights movement, as well as the analysis of prominent African American music, literature and art, with an overall goal of exploring the important contributions African Americans have made to history.
Florida State University School in Tallahassee is one of the schools piloting the class. Social studies instructor Mr. Marlon Williams-Clark who teaches the course revealed that some of the topics studied are the origins of the African diaspora, the Atlantic slave trade and the era of Reconstruction.
The introduction of the course comes at a precarious time in the nation. According to a 2022 report from the free speech group, PEN America, 36 states introduced 137 bills in an attempt to prohibit or restrict teaching on topics such as race, gender and sexuality. This number is more than double last year when 22 states introduced 54 restrictive bills.
Florida is one state that has made significant attempts to limit critical race education. In 2021, the Florida Education Board banned the teaching of critical race theory and the 1619 Project in schools. The 1619 Project is a multimedia series developed by the New York Times that details the consequences of slavery and the contributions of African Americans. It was launched in August of 2019, 400 years after the first enslaved Africans were brought to America. The new bill prohibits schools from discussing it.
The College Board itself has refrained from any political comments. However, Mr. Williams-Clark revealed in an interview with “The New York Times” that neither critical race theory nor the 1619 Project is a part of the course. “There might be elements that cross over. But this course is a comprehensive, mainstream course about the African American experience,” he stated.
If the pilot proves to be successful, the College Board plans to post the course framework on its website in spring 2024 and introduce the new AP during the 2024-2025 school year.