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Afro students looking at the screen of a laptop together outside the university

Source: ABRAHAM GONZALEZ FERNANDEZ / Getty

The College Board announced the official curriculum for the AP African American Studies course, but critics note significant omissions apparently to appease conservative politicians like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.

On Wednesday morning (Feb. 1), the nonprofit education organization released the official curriculum offered in the newest Advanced Placement African American Studies course for high school students. But contemporary Black topics such as intersectionality, reparations and Black Lives Matter are no longer actively present in the coursework. 

The new curriculum, which consists of 234 pages, still contains 79 topics under four subjects – “Origins of the African Diaspora,” “Freedom, Enslavement and Resistance,” “The Practice of Freedom” and “Movements and Debates.” But contemporary topics such as intersectionality and activism, Black queer studies and Black feminist studies as well as reparations and social justice movements like Black Lives Matter, are now absent from the course save for a list where they can be chosen for research projects by students.

“These topics are not a required part of the course framework that is formally adopted by states and that defines the exam. This list is a partial one for illustrative purposes and can be refined by states and districts,” the College Board said of the omitted topics. The pilot version of the course will be offered in 60 high schools across the country, with further expansion slated nationally for the 2024-2025 school year.

The move comes after an early draft was allegedly leaked to conservative publications like the National Review, which the Board denies. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ education board stated it would not make it available to students in the state in a letter last month, claiming it was “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” DeSantis said when asked afterward that “we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them when you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.” Over 200 Black educators blasted the move by DeSantis in a letter posted on Medium Tuesday (Jan. 31).

Professor Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, whose work is foundational to critical race theory, was omitted from the course along with bell hooks and Ta Nehisi-Coates among others. Crenshaw expressed her concerns. “African American history is not just male. It’s not just straight. It’s not just middle class,” she stated. “It has to tell the story of all of us.”

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