Governor DeSantis Banned the Advanced Placement Course in African American Studies Based on a Draft.

DeSantis Administration Rejects Proposed African American AP Studies.

The African American Studies course is the latest addition to the College Board’s Advanced Placement, or AP, program, which allows high school students to take classes for college credit.

AP classes in high school often alert students to subject matter they would never otherwise encounter, and it’s unsurprising that AP students tend to major or minor in such disciplines at much higher rate than students who did not have such coursework in high school. 

According to, “Surveys of Black parents and students have found that the opportunity to earn college credit in a high school course is a more powerful incentive than it is for students in most other racial / ethnic groups. The AP designation can help such students stand out in college admissions, join a college-going culture, and place into the college courses where they will thrive.”

In January, the Florida Department of Education rejected the new course, based on a review of the Draft. DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin called it a “vehicle for a political agenda.”  Florida’s Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. called the course “woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”  Described by Merriam-Webster as “chiefly US slang”, the dictionary defines woke as: “Aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

On February 1, at a sparkling crowd of academics and teachers gathered at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to celebrate the unveiling of the first ever (Final) Advanced Placement course in African American studies.

But compared with the Draft for the high school course, it now lacked or had less of, certain topics that people at the gathering thought were essential to the discipline, like Black Lives Matter and reparations.  These changes caused a stir with many who felt they were considered political, in nature.  Such as the Florida Department of Education’s rejection of the Draft of new course.

Also missing were mentions of queer studies and police brutality, and the new inclusion of Black Republicans, like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice?

Reparations. Black Lives Matter. Queer studies. These are just a few of the key concepts the College Board included in a pilot of its course, but which do not appear in the final course materials,

Several other scholarly concepts have been targeted. Those include intersectionality, the idea first laid out by the prominent legal scholar Kimberlé W. Crenshaw that race, class, gender, sexuality, and other identities overlap and shape individuals’ experiences of the world; womanism, a movement centered around recognizing the Black, female experience; and queer studies.

Last year’s draft also included a unit on “incarceration and abolition,” which was heavily influenced by the work of Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow.” Ms. Alexander is a writer and civil rights activist known for her argument that modern-day mass incarceration is, in some respects, an extension of the systems of control established under slavery and segregation.

Ms. Alexander and her ideas, which are divisive even among some left-leaning scholars, have been removed from the final version of the course. 

L.G.B.T.Q. Topics

“Black Queer Studies” was a focus in the 2022 Draft, and it mentioned three leading scholars: Cathy Cohen, a University of Chicago political scientist and expert on race, gender, and sexuality; Roderick Ferguson, a professor at Yale University who has written about gay rights through the lens of race and class; and E. Patrick Johnson, founder, and director of the Black Arts Initiative at Northwestern University.

The term “queer studies” and those individual names have been deleted from the current version of the curriculum. The new framework does make a passing reference to the midcentury civil rights leader Bayard Rustin facing discrimination because he was gay. It briefly discusses Black lesbians feeling out of place in both the civil rights and women’s movements, which were led by Black male and white female figures.


It is time for reparations – The New York Times – two years ago.

Arguments in favor of reparations for slavery were highlighted in last year’s draft. It cited H.R. 40, a congressional bill to study reparations, and the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the journalist and author who in 2014 published “The Case for Reparations,” a groundbreaking essay in The Atlantic. That piece focused on the living legacies of sharecropping, redlining and other forms of economic discrimination against Black Americans.

But the term “reparations” appears only once in the final version of the curriculum, as an example of an optional project topic. Mr. Coates’s name does not appear.

Neither version of the A.P. African American Studies curriculum mentioned critical race theory.

In a statement to The New York Times, the College Board added that with the lack of or less of certain topics, the Education Department showed “ignorance and derision for the field of African American studies.”

The College Board hit back over the weekend of February 11 at top Florida officials over the state’s ban on a new AP African American Studies course…while Florida’s governor on Monday suggested the state could “reevaluate” its relationship with the organization.

Members of the official AP African American Studies Development Committee have been concerned to see the work of more than 300 college professors caricatured and misrepresented as a political pawn. They reject any claim that their work either indoctrinates students or, on the other hand, has bowed to political pressure. Instead, their course provides students with a foundation in African American Studies by requiring direct analysis of key historical documents, artworks, music, data sets, maps, graphs, and other primary sources. In the AP course, students analyze rather than opine.

Dr. Kerry L. Haynie

Dr. Kerry L. Haynie, professor of political science and dean of the social sciences at Duke University, is one of 16 high school teachers and college professors on the AP African American Studies Development Committee. According to The Chronicle. “In the letter, he rejected any claims of the curriculum and the College Board “[indoctrinating] students’ or – [bowing] to political pressure.’ Haynie told The Chronicle that any such characterizations are ‘grossly inaccurate’ and ‘misleading.’”

According to a February 1, statement by the College Board, “No states or districts have seen the official framework that is released, much less provided feedback on it.” 

Yet according to Dr. Haynie, for the first time are additions to the framework. “Here are just a few of many examples:

· We felt queer Black Americans’ contributions were underdeveloped in the pilot version of the course, so we’ve added content to the framework including the contributions and discrimination faced by Bayard Rustin and Pauli Murray, and the disillusionment Black lesbians experienced with the broader civil rights and feminist movements.

· We begin the course now with complex early African societies like Cush/Kush, Aksum, and Nok; the ongoing impact of Aksum on Christianity, and the ways modern African writers have utilized information about these societies to counteract racist ideas about African heritage and culture.

· We have drawn more illuminating connections between developments in the U.S. and the broader Diaspora, such as an in-depth comparison of enslavement and emancipation in Brazil and the United States.

As we’ve refined the topics of the class, principled debates have occurred within and among academics in our field. The differences of opinion about what to include in an AP course — and the changes we’ve made over this past year — reflect the wide variation in which topics and concepts colleges themselves choose to include in their courses.”

According to Dr. Haynie, “To be clear, the AP African American Studies course is not perfect — no more than any of the courses on our own campuses are perfect. Each individual professor of African American Studies must choose what to include and exclude in the limited time available. We’ll all have our quibbles with the official AP framework, just as we do when we look at the syllabi of other instructors in our departments.

But there’s so much to celebrate here. At long last, African American Studies is being given the same credibility and status in the 20,000 high schools worldwide that offer AP courses as subjects like Biology, European History, Japanese Language and Culture, and English Literature. 

February 1 is a historic day, and we encourage reading the official framework directly as an act of resistance to the political noise that seeks to undermine this historic achievement in articulating a powerful, joyous, haunting, illuminating, essential body of content knowledge that all 50 states would do well to embrace and celebrate.”

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