The College Board announced it will start offering an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course at 60 high schools across the country.
Starting this school year, the College Board is piloting a new Advanced Placement (AP) course in 60 unnamed high schools: AP African American Studies. This is the first new AP class the College Board has offered since 2014, and it’s about time.
AP classes are a somewhat contentious topic. While AP classes offer high school students a chance to earn college credits and gain a competitive edge, many have pointed to the fact that AP classes are often taught in wealthier districts with predominantly white demographics. And, given that history is tends to be told from the narrow perspective of the “winners,” any AP history classes available were focused on American or European history. This new AP African American Studies course is a step in the right direction in terms of equity and inclusivity.
The course will cover over 400 years of African American history, according to TIME, and will span topics such as literature, political science, and geography. Henry-Louis Gates, Jr., one of the country’s leading experts on African American history, helped shape the new AP course.
“AP African American Studies is not CRT,” Gates, Jr. told TIME. Several states, including Florida, have banned Critical Race Theory (CRT) from the classroom. “It’s not the 1619 Project. It is a mainstream, rigorously vetted, academic approach to a vibrant field of study, one half a century old in the American academy, and much older, of course, in historically Black colleges and universities.”
The course includes in-depth lessons on Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast and medical programs; the Reconstruction Era and how it has shaped mass incarceration today; and how to look at discrimination through overlapping racial and gender identities.
This is a course that many have been requesting for quite some time, and the College Board said it was a decade in the making. Previously, the Board did not offer a class because many surveyed colleges said they would not accept college credit for the class. When asked again in 2020, more colleges were not only open but eager to accept course credits for AP African American Studies.
“The events surrounding George Floyd and the increased awareness and attention paid towards issues of inequity and unfairness and brutality directed towards African Americans caused me to wonder, ‘Would colleges be more receptive to an AP course in this discipline than they were 10 years ago?’” Trevor Packer, head of the College Board’s AP program, told TIME.
The course will be offered to a total of 200 high schools next year, according to CBS, before it rolls out nationwide starting in the 2024-2025 school year.