Issue 6 Editorial: AP African American Studies is a necessary addition

In 60 high schools across the country this year, Collegeboard began its official pilot for a new course: Advanced Placement African American Studies (APAAS), the first addition to its curriculum since 2014. 

According to Collegeboard, it has partnered with secondary schools and colleges for over a decade to develop APAAS. “The interdisciplinary course reaches into a variety of fields—literature, the arts and humanities, political science, geography, and science—to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans,” Collegeboard’s page for the class said. 

However, this new course has drawn heavy backlash from many conservative politicians, especially Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. He called APAAS “indoctrination” and “woke,” barring Floridan schools from offering it to their students. 

After DeSantis’ complaint, Collegeboard released a revised curriculum in February 2023, one which omitted works from many of the seminal authors in African American studies, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, a leading writer of critical race theory and Columbia Law School professor, and Angela Davis, an active member in the Communist and Black Panther Parties. 

We at the Hoofprint believe a course in African American studies is not only proper, but it will also fill gaps in students’ education because of the current Eurocentric curriculum. For example, out of the listed 61 AP World History topics, only 4 explicitly mentioned subjects related to Africa, mostly near the beginning of the course. 

In addition, in United States history classes, units focusing on African Americans most likely are about slavery or the civil rights movement. APAAS will go beyond these two pivotal yet limiting events, presenting a more complete examination of an ethnic group that has made America what it is now. 

At the end of the day, AP classes are meant to enrich and broaden students’ education, so they’d be prepared to interact with the heterogeneous community that is a college campus. The ability to have mindful discussions about complicated social issues needs soft skills and knowledge that are simply not offered within Collegeboard’s course list today. APAAS, however, is a step in the right direction to change that.