Home News Inside the College Board’s Revised African American Studies Curriculum

Inside the College Board’s Revised African American Studies Curriculum


Still, Professor Crenshaw’s name does not appear in the final framework. She is also a key thinker in the field of critical race theory, which posits that racism is embedded in the structure of the American legal system. While C.R.T. is seldom explicitly taught outside of universities, the term itself has become an object of fixation for many conservatives, who object to K-12 schools emphasizing racism and other forms of discrimination.

Neither version of the A.P. African American Studies curriculum mentioned critical race theory.

Bringing graduate-level concepts into high schools can prove politically dicey even in progressive contexts. When the State of California released a draft ethnic studies curriculum in 2019 that focused largely on the four groups considered part of university ethnic studies departments — African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans — there was outrage from some organizations representing American Jews, Hindus and other minority groups. The state chose to revise the document.

But Advanced Placement differs from other high school programs in that it is explicitly designed to expose students to college-level concepts.

A unit on “The Black Feminist Movement and Womanism,” which previously highlighted intersectionality, has been renamed “Black Women and Movements in the 20th Century.” While the term “intersectionality” is now avoided, a similar concept remains under the heading “Overlapping Dimensions of Black Life.” The new framework discusses Gwendolyn Brooks and Mari Evans as writers whose work explored gender and class alongside race. And the Combahee River Collective, a key Black second-wave feminist group, remains in the framework.

Still, groundbreaking Black female writers and leftist activists such as bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis and Alice Walker, who were included in the 2022 draft, have since been excised.

Mr. Packer of the College Board noted that the work of less controversial African American Studies scholars, such as Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham and Henry Louis Gates Jr., had also been left out of the final framework, because of the decision to move the course away from prescribing present-day secondary sources.

An entire unit on “the origins, mission and global influence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the Movement for Black Lives” has been deleted from the 2022 framework. The term Black Lives Matter does not appear in the current version of the curriculum.

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