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Florida Denies AP African American Studies Courses

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Howard chapter.

By Aysia Shelley

The administration of Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida rejected an Advanced Placement course for high schoolers that outline African American studies. Advanced Placement Courses give high school students the opportunity to learn about subjects at the college level, earn college credit, and learn more in-depth about the subject matter. African American studies outline the African American experience and details more than the history books touch on. In a letter sent on January 12 to the College Board, The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation said the course is “seriously lacking in educational value” and “inexplicably opposed to Florida law”. This is unfortunate as students need to learn history to make sure that it does not repeat itself. Wrapped in African American studies are stories of oppression, slavery, discrimination, and segregation which are generally glazed over in history classes or confined only to Black History Month. 

African American history must be studied, according to Florida law. However, Governor Ron DeSantis, who is seen as a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has garnered national notoriety for supporting limitations on what Florida children can and cannot study. The Stop WOKE Act, also known as the Individual Freedoms Act, which he signed last year, governs how racial topics are taught in public institutions, colleges, and workplace training programs. It seems as though the things that this governor puts in place are racially motivated. I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and if black issues and history continue to be pushed aside the events that happened in history will reoccur. When students learn about what has occurred in the past, they are able to make sure that it does not happen again, and we can progress as a whole. The curriculum studied in grade school is overwhelmingly white which leaves little room to discuss where the black community was and currently stands. The denial of an AP African American studies course is just another way to sweep black issues under the rug and pretend that they did not happen. It is also very telling for the government to deem these studies as “lacking in educational value”. Are the struggles, oppression, discrimination, and racism that we face unimportant?

Growing up in a predominantly white area, I disliked that I only learned about white issues, and those which affected my community were ignored. With that being said, I chose Howard University where I knew the curriculum would tie back to my people. Knowledge is power and by being knowledgeable about what my people have been through, I have the tools to be the change to ensure that we do not continue facing racial disparities. I was also not offered an AP African American studies course but I believe that it would have offered me a lot of insight that I did not gain from the white-written history books. 

Hello, my name is Aysia Shelley! I am a junior criminology major, legal communications minor from New Baltimore, MI.