Earlier this month, Florida’s Department of Education blocked a proposed Advance Placement (AP) course, developed by The College Board, focused on African American studies. The course had been in development for more than 10 years and “aims to explore the experiences and contributions of African Americans through various lenses, from the African diaspora to the Civil Rights movement, and beyond.” The College Board is currently piloting the course at 60 schools across the U.S. and plans to make it available to all schools in the 2024-2025 school year.
The course is currently being offered at one school in Florida, but Florida officials, including Governor Ron DeSantis, have taken issue with the curriculum. On Monday, Gov. DeSantis stood by his Department of Education’s decision to reject students’ access to the AP course on African American studies, issuing a statement that, “As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow.”
The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), Florida Black Women’s Roundtable, Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Florida Black Youth Vote takes extreme issue with, and strongly challenges, Gov. DeSantis and his administration’s position regarding this important and highly educational AP course on African American studies.
States Melanie L. Campbell, NCBCP President & CEO and Convener of The Black Women’s Roundtable, “As a native-born Floridian and Black American, I find it most offensive that Florida Governor DeSantis and his Administration would choose the month of January — when the nation celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave his life fighting for civil rights, voting rights, economic and social justice for our people — to attempt to erase Black History from being taught to Florida’s high school students.
The proposed AP course on African American studies that The College Board recommended to the State of Florida would continue to add further context to the very real, and ongoing struggle, Black people face in America. A course that discusses how we work to overcome those many obstacles, on a daily basis. Not fiction, not ‘political indoctrination’ or ‘ideological material’ but real talk and facts.
What’s happening in Florida can most assuredly set a very racist precedent in other states to reject the teaching of Black History. States that already wish to restrict our right to vote can now continue with their wishes to minimize our impact and value by distorting and/or, eliminating our history all together. We cannot, and must not, let that happen. We will fight with our last dying breath to not only vote but to continue to be seen as the relevant contributors to this nation that we have been, and will continue to be.”
Adds Salandra Benton, Convener of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Florida Black Women’s Roundtable, “Being a Black mother and one that encourages young people every day to learn more about Black history, as well as the history from other ethnic backgrounds, this impacts me personally. Every ethnic group makes up the fabric of American history.
I’m very disappointed to hear that the leadership of Florida doesn’t feel the same way. We live in Florida, the Sunshine State, and it looks like the leadership of Florida doesn’t want the students to shine bright by refusing them their rights to learn about African American history in school. I hate to think that the leadership of Florida is promoting racism in our public school system. This can’t happen in the Sunshine State in 2023 and beyond. I’m asking Governor DeSantis to do the right thing and be the Governor for all Florida children. Let African American history be taught to the students in Florida, the Sunshine State.
I can’t support our students not being educated on all aspects of history. We should want our students to learn as much as possible, not limit them. Allow them to be a good example of Florida schools as they prepare to move into higher education or the workplace.
Today, our Florida Black Youth Vote leaders are standing up in solidarity with the Equal Ground Action Fund, Florida Black State Legislators and others at the ‘Stop the Black Attack’ Rally in Tallahassee to demand for Governor DeSantis to do the right thing and approve the Advance Placement African American Studies Course now.”