First AP African American Studies course launches this fall

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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.

The College Board has not released an official syllabus or overview of the course, but they do have a description of the African American Studies major that students may take in college. Like most other AP classes, AP African Studies will serve as preparation for the college-level course. (Photo/College Board)

Irene, now a senior at American Heritage, returns to staff as the Online-Editor-in-Chief for her third and final year with the Patriot Post. She loves all things literature and spends most of her time with her nose in a book. Her passion for writing started early, and she is currently the co-president of the Quill and Scroll Society. When she is not studying or writing articles for the wonderful iPatriotPost, she enjoys volunteering and helping lead a multitude of clubs at Heritage. Since 2014, she has worked alongside Best Buddies, an organization that advocates for inclusivity for those with intellectual and physical disabilities. As a co-founder and current board member of the South Florida Best Buddies Student Advisory Board, she plans fundraisers and service projects, including the annual Friendship Walk, which raised almost $300,000. She looks forward to making this year special and as amazing as possible.