AP African American Studies


Jessie Ji, Photo Editor

So far, sixty American high schools have debuted the latest Advanced Placement (AP) course—AP African American Studies. This course, which is still being piloted in selected U.S. high schools through 2024, is a multidisciplinary curriculum that not only teaches history but offers students an in-depth understanding of African American culture through the lenses of politics, civil rights movements, literature, arts, and geography. 

The College Board, known for providing students a platform to take undergraduate courses for credit in high school, has become a key component in high school education across the globe. The launching of AP African American Studies allows students to focus on a deep examination on the history of America through a distinctive black gaze, meanwhile offers the context to issues and movements that cohere the Black community over time. “This course is hugely impactful,” commented Jessica Kapadia, the Chair of the History and Social Science Department, “It’s a really great opportunity for students to learn history that’s either representative of one’s own past or different from one’s own past.”  

However, this new course is experiencing backlash on a national scale. In a letter to the College Board, in January of 2023, the Florida Department of Education  stated that they refused to include AP African American studies in their course directory, as it is not “historically accurate” and is of “the woke indoctrination.” Seemingly, under this pressure, the College Board removed certain contents from its curriculum, which were core to helping people understand the intersectionality of race, gender, and class.

Black feminism. Queer studies. Reparations. The Black Lives Matter Movement. These are just a few of the topics that the College Board removed from the course’s curriculum. Some scholarly concepts were also targeted, such as intersectionality, womanism, and Critical Race Theory. Yet, these subjects make up an essential part of African American history and contemporary issues. The downplaying of certain histories to appease political opinions is a denial of human experience. “Sometimes when we look at how great atrocities and injustices in the world happen, it’s often times because people who know better don’t speak up,” Nancy Nassr, the Assistant Head of School and Academic Dean, continued, “So it’s sad to see the College Board, which is seen in many spheres in our country as this intellectual governing body for advanced curricular studies, waver under pressure.”

African American history is American history. By adding this course, both the teachers and students would see and understand the history, the present, and future from the voice of a neglected and stigmatized group. “This [course] allows for a deep dive into the experience of African Americans in US History that is a crucial piece to the puzzle,” stated Jessica Kapadia. 

What history class teaches is not merely dates, facts, or the chronology of events, but the “critical and empathetic thinking in students in order for us to have a more just world,” said Ms.Nassr. While the College Board had added a fresh perspective to look back at history with AP African American Studies, this course that is still within its preliminary stage unavoidably has to be subjected to comments, critics, and revisions to make an impact on the younger generation.