NPR’s Leila Fadel talks to Teresa Reed, dean of the University of Louisville’s College of Tunes and a member of the committee that made the Higher education Board’s AP African American experiments course.
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Resource connection On September 24th, the College Board announced a revision to their Advanced Placement (AP) United States HistoryCurriculum for the 2021-2022 school year. The changes sparked a debate over whether the College Board had caved to outside pressure in response to calls to modify the content of their African American Studies course.
The initial AP U.S. History Course Framework included African American history and events such as the Civil Rights Movement, lynching, and segregation. However, critics charged that it didn’t focus enough on the impact of racism and racial oppression. After backlash from several student-led organizations, the College Board released a revised Framework with a stronger emphasis on African American studies.
The updated framework addresses issues such as African American education, the Great Migration, and the contributions of Black Americans throughout history. The revisions also address the role of social movements, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and its impact on the progress of racial justice in America.
While the College Board has denied caving to external pressure, they have said they listened to the concerns of the student organizations, who proposed the revision. The organizations argued that the original curriculum focused too heavily on the perspective of white Americans while ignoring the impact of African American culture and experiences. They also proposed that the revised Framework provide a more comprehensive view of African American history and the wider historical context.
Proponents of the revision believe the revised Framework provides an opportunity to celebrate African American history and culture and create a more equitable learning environment for African American students. Supporters of the changes also hope that the revised Framework will inspire more students to engage in African American studies and to learn about lesser-known African American figures, leaders, and events. Conversely, detractors of the revision have come out against the College Board for pandering to pressure and insisted that it amounts to a form of ‘woke-washing.’
Ultimately, whether or not the College Board ‘caved’ to pressure, the revised Framework has opened new doors for African American studies, and students have the opportunity to explore a more broad and comprehensive American history.