AP African American Studies

Why is it important to strive for black history to be taught in all schools?


Auriana Montgomery, Student

We have all sat through numerous history classes and lessons thus far in our educational careers. But out of all that information that you’ve been taught, about white history, the wars, and George Washington, what sticks with you? How do the same repetitive topics and readings being revisited again and again, change anything now? Has it ever meant anything to you? Has being taught that same history ever sparked any type of motivation/inspiration for you to participate in doing better for all human equality NOW?

From my personal experience of growing up, learning, and being a part of a predominately white community as a minority, I have unfortunately never received that type of connection with the history that has been so mind-numbingly and continuously drilled into my brain throughout the years. From what I can remember of 5th grade to now, all the United States history that I have been taught just blends together. I couldn’t tell you anything interesting or important that I remember about our history. It hasn’t ended there yet either, I still have another semester of required US History of redundant information to take to graduate high school, and I’m sure there is more to come in college. With all the kindness and just the honest vocalization of my opinion and point of view, I have never been more bored of a repeating topic. It’s like nails on a chalkboard at this point. From what I can remember from my history teachers, is that they all managed to skip over important black history things that could have been taught commonly and awkwardly, with something as simple as a singular power point slide. Or brushing past slavery in a few days teachings. It never has been put in the educational perspective of something that is important or deserves more time to be taught in school, when we all should understand that black history was and is so much more than that. In today’s world, society, and reality, it is principal to understand the significance of our voices, as the upcoming future adult generation. In many ways we know that change is possible, and that we are responsible for it. It is important to strive for black history to be taught in schools, so that everyone has the opportunity for the benefits of exploring an accurate understanding of our global and local past injustices, for future equalities.

As explained by the AP African American Studies course framework, project, and exam overview, “AP Courses foster an open-minded approach to the histories and cultures of different peoples.”

Mary Louise Kelly, from National Public Radio spoke with the College Board CEO David Coleman and director of Advanced Placement African American Studies Brandi Waters about the decided curriculum changes that have drawn criticism. Speaking in light of the future course, Waters says, “This is a really great opportunity to also give them a chance to earn college credit and to feel much more prepared and successful as they pursue this course of study in college as well. So, there was a lot of interest around this field also coming from students and teachers.”

Chuck Yarborough is a teacher at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. He says, “As a veteran teacher whose time in a Mississippi classroom is approaching the end of its third decade, I’ve witnessed how much of my state has been shaped by common narratives-often incomplete or incorrect- about our shared history.

These incomplete histories-typically celebrated by those who benefit most from the status quo-not only prevent students from confronting important elements of our state history, but also contribute to entrenched injustices in our society. Racial violence, economic injustice, and the corrupt exercise of power have often been absent from many of our history classrooms-not just those in my state.” So what Chuck is saying is that with his credible background knowledge and experience, he has seen how the negative and selective points of view of our history’s teachings can lead down different paths for students. He then talks about the absences of the recognizable and impactful past injustices that he has noticed to be more widespread than in his state. The African American AP course being offered next school year is a step towards the right direction for equality and a fair new learning opportunity for everyone.

The Learning Network from The NY Times also says, “It would be the first course in African American studies for high school students that is considered rigorous enough to allow students to receive credit and advanced placement at many colleges across the country. But the rollout of the course over the past six months has run into controversy.”

The College Board has faced resentment over the studies course. Mary Kelly continues by saying, (On) “Feb. 1, 2023: The College Board released an official curriculum for the new A.P. class- stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered Florida’s governor and other conservatives.”

“So, to this week and the political tensions- As I nodded to, Governor DeSantis threatened to ban the original course. He talked about the political agenda that he thought it was contributing to. The education commissioner for Florida spoke of, and I am quoting, ‘woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”

In simpler expression, what the commissioner is saying is a purposefully vague term used to tap into and form resentment against traditionally marginalized groups like Black Americans.

As stated by Ariel Zilber for dailymail.com, “American schools are ‘going down the tubes’ because they have been ‘infected’ with ‘woke culture’ that has sacrificed the idea of excellence by ‘indoctrinating’ students, according to a leading critic.”

Explained through The Britannica Dictionary, Indoctrinating is: “To teach someone to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs.”

From dailymail.com again it says, “Vivek Ramaswamy (Vi-vek Raa-muh-swaa-mee) spoke out in response to two separate controversies that impacted elite New York City prep schools where parents complained their children were being brainwashed with anti-racism ideology”.

By sharing partial narratives, we undermine our nation’s ability to live up to some of its founding ideals, such as recognizing and acknowledging the need for equality. Students can confront injustices with the perspective and wisdom that open, honest, and nonopinionated history can provide. Education week continues by saying, “The benefits of exploring a more complete and accurate understanding of our local past-particularly black history- while gaining insights applicable to our national past are obvious. Students are empowered to contribute more fully to their local community, and the community comes to understand itself better”. In the eyes of critics, uncovering and sharing a more accurate picture of our nation’s racial past, somehow makes up for the modernized rewriting of history that is destructive to our nations core values. In our world today where the only consistency that we can count on is that things are always changing and developing, it is overridingly important to give our future generations and students the opportunity for a better perspective of all history, no matter how the truth can be interpreted.