OPINION: Republicans cannot stomp out Black history

In 60 high schools across the nation, the College Board is conducting a pilot test of the new Advanced Placement African American Studies course. Students have been engaging with course content throughout the school year and will participate in a faux AP Exam in May to determine its success. The addition of the course marks the pivotal recognition of African American history and encourages multifarious history curriculums. Despite this, its implementation has come under vicious attack from Republican political figures.

In January, the Florida Department of Education rejected AP African American Studies in a brash and controversial move against the “woke” ideologies that verberate throughout the course. Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, stood behind the decision, citing the course’s inclusion of Black queer theory and the prison abolition movement as violations of the state’s educational standards. DeSantis condemned the course as the indoctrination of a leftist political agenda, chalking up the course’s in-depth coverage of enslavement and African diaspora as lacking educational value.

Whilst DeSantis is applauded for being an opponent of the woke, he deprives students of the vital educational opportunity to study a critical aspect of history that has formed many of the inequalities present within modern society. Gov. DeSantis has implemented measures censoring what subjects a teacher can cover within their curriculums. The Parental Rights in Education Act, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” has had the effect of stigmatizing LGBTQ+ individuals and silencing LGBTQ+ educators. In his battle against the woke, DeSantis has villainized educators, placing limitations on their First Amendment rights and their academic freedoms.

The banning of AP African American Studies is the continuation of Florida’s tendency to modify the education system to align with a narrative of white-washed history cleansed of accurate accounts of historical movements and events. According to NBCBLK, AP African American Studies initially began as a means to increase AP course enrollment amongst African American students. Florida’s legislative actions have crushed the potential of the course, closing the gateway to higher education for many minority students.

The refusal to offer AP African American Studies is a detriment to Floridian students, as the course acts as an introductory basis to college-level humanities, sciences and social studies courses.

The results of the pilot test have thus far been successful, with many students expressing gratitude for the course’s in-depth coverage of Black history. Despite this, Florida’s decision still stands, and the schismatic actions of Gov. DeSantis are alarming as Florida edges closer to being a state devoid of any race- and gender-related education. In the other 49 states where it remains legal to teach AP African American Studies, the course will play a large role in establishing African American studies as a cornerstone of the academic world and an integral part of the U.S. education system.