The College Board stated on Thursday that it “resolutely” disagrees with the notion that African Americans benefited from enslavement. This statement was made in response to comparisons between its Advanced Placement course on African American Studies and Florida’s newly approved Black history curriculum.
Jeremy Redfern, the press secretary for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, tweeted on Wednesday what appears to be a screenshot of a section of the AP African American Studies course framework that references slavery. Students should be aware that subjugated people learned trades that they used to provide for themselves and others once they were free.
Florida’s Ongoing Debate on Black History Education: New Standards Approved
Education about black history has been the subject of an ongoing debate in Florida. The Florida Board of Education approved a new set of standards for teaching Black history in the state’s public institutions last week.
Some of the language in Florida’s new rules drew criticism from education and civil rights advocates, including a requirement that middle school teachers include “how slaves developed skills that could sometimes be applied to their personal advantage.”
The screenshot uploaded by Redfern appears to be from a document on the College Board website describing the 2023-2024 AP African American Studies course framework. According to the document, students should learn about the “range and variety of specialized roles” that subjugated people held.
In addition to agricultural labor, enslaved people in the North and South learned specialized trades and worked as painters, craftsmen, tailors, musicians, and healers. Once liberated, African Americans utilized these skills to provide for themselves and others, according to the course outline.
The College Board was aware that some individuals had suggested that the course requirements outlined on its AP African American Studies course framework aligned with some of Florida’s recently approved Black history standards.
“Unit two of the current framework includes a discussion about the skills enslaved people brought with them that enslavers exploited, as well as other skills developed in America that were valuable to their enslavers,” the board stated. “Enslaved Africans and their descendants used these skills to resist their oppression by surviving, building community, and creating culture.”
According to the College Board, its AP African American studies course “will provide a comprehensive introduction to the history, literature, and arts of African Americans in the United States.”
The subject is anticipated to be offered again as a pilot during the 2023-2024 academic year. The College Board stated that a definitive framework for the course will be released later this year, with the first iteration of the finalized course scheduled to be taught in 2024-2025.