AP course in African American studies brings black history to life for these Tulsa students | CNN (2023)

making changes to his AP African American Studies course for middle school studentscriticism from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis— a potential front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination — after a public spat between the two parties. CNN's Ed Lavandera visited McLain High School in Tulsa, OK, where the pilot version is being taught, and spoke to teachers and students." data-details="" data-duration="03:39" data-editable="settings" data -fave- thumbnails='{"big": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230426112755-teacher-tulsa-schol-ap-african-american -studies. jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" }, "small": { "uri": "https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/230426112755-teacher -tulsa- schol-ap-african-american-studies.jpg?c=16x9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill" } }' data-featured-video="true" data-headline="This school teaches African American history course rejected by DeSantis" data -live="" data-medium-env="prod" data-network-id="" data-show-ads="true" data-show-html="" data-source-html='- Source:CNN ' data-uri="archive.cms.cnn.com/_components/video-resource/instances/h_f03293ac39fca19c8a65aa3a79097cd0-h_63b106b0f9bd7991dd67a6d6d141733ac39fca19c8a65aa3a79097cd0-h_63b106b0f9bd7991dd67a6d6d14173ic-us/data-op40-udgivet-udgivet@t323c-us" 26/højskole-bestyrelsesskift -ap-african-american-studies-governor-ron-desantis-florida-criticism-contd-ldn-vpx.cnn" data-vr-video="">
AP course in African American studies brings black history to life for these Tulsa students | CNN (1)

This school teaches an African-American history course rejected by DeSantis

03:39 - Source:CNN

Tulsa, Oklahoma CNN

Darren Williams, a teacher at McLain High School of Science and Technology in Tulsa, Okla., pointed a wooden ruler at one of four red questions on the blackboard in his classroom. "Question number three, somebody read it," he said.

"What is the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture?" a male student responded with anxiety.

Another female student, speaking over the conversation, looked at her cell phone and read a long post about the center. "So what's the short answer?" asked a student. "It's the largest collection of African and African-American artifacts in the world," Williams replied.

Williams is one of two professors at the school who teach the Advanced Placement course in African American Studies, which is administered by the College Board in 60 schools in 33 states across the country.

The course has been at the center of a national debate about teaching racial issues in primary schools,with several statesincluding Virginia, Arkansas, North Dakota and Mississippi, and said they would review the curriculum to see if the course violates state policies.

The increased scrutiny came after Florida Governor Ron DeSantisrejected an early draftof course, because it included classes on reparations, black queer studies, and the Black Lives Movement.

The college board has since released the courseofficial structurelists some of the controversial topics as possibilities for a necessary research project. On Monday, thethe board of the college announcedthat it was making changes to that structure, without specifying what it was changing, but said the details would be determined in the coming months.

Emmitt Glynn is seen outside his classroom at Baton Rouge Magnet High School while teaching his second AP African American Studies class on Monday, Jan. 30, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Stephen Smith/AP Read the AP African American Studies Curriculum

"We are committed to providing an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture. To achieve this commitment, we must listen to the diversity of voices in the field," the council said Monday in a statement.

The official course, which differs from what is being tested at Tulsa and other schools, will be rolled out in the fall of 2024.

Forty-five students are currently enrolled in classes at McLain, which Williams says cover a variety of topics, including African-American resistance and rebellion, lynching of blacks, slave farms, prominent figures in black history and African-Americans, Americans. Latin movement.

Ezekiel Goff, a student, says he is learning a lot about black history, especially political figures and lynchings.

"It's important because some people talk about things they don't know, but this curriculum brings a lot of knowledge," Goff said.

McLain was chosen in part because it is located in a city where the experiences of black history have been hidden for too long. Principal Renee Rabovsky says Tulsa is a historically black community and students deserve to know its history.

AP course in African American studies brings black history to life for these Tulsa students | CNN (3)

An area north of downtown Tulsa, known to locals as the "Steps to Nowhere," tells the story of the 1921 massacre and what used to happen there.

The school, which is 50% black and 35% Latino, is just five miles from Tulsa's Greenwood District, or Black Wall Street, a once-thriving neighborhood of black-owned businesses and homes that was decimated by a racist white mob inTulsa Race Massacre i 1921, a deadly attack that generations of Oklahomans have never heard of.

Today, the neighborhood is a fraction of what it once was, stretching less than two blocks with a restaurant owned by Black, a coffee shop, a barbershop and a few other businesses.

'Those who reject do not understand'

Williams says American history has largely been "romanticized," and the AP course in African American Studies gives students a broader and more complete view of that history.

AP course in African American studies brings black history to life for these Tulsa students | CNN (4)

Darren Williams lectures to students in his AP African-American History course.

"African-American history is world history, it's American history, and it's been erased and written down and left out," Williams told CNN. "It's a long time coming to this AP level and it's about time it happened."

He calls the course a form of "educational justice," which is taking place as some Republican lawmakers across the country work tolimit what teachers can teachabout race and black history.

In 2021, for example, Oklahoma passed a lawlimit the teaching of racein public schools. Last year, Oklahoma's Republican governor Kevin Stittcalled for a review of Tulsa Public Schools, citing concerns that the district may have violated a law that prohibits "public schools from teaching critical race theory."

And Virginia Gov. Youngkin said during a CNN town hall in March that he ordered a review of the pilot course in African American Studies "to ensure that there are no inherently divisive concepts being used in the teaching of this AP course."

Some critics claim thatteach the history of racismin the US harms white children by making them feel guilty. DeSantis called the course "indoctrination" and said an "agenda" was imposed on the students.

McLain students and faculty say DeSantis' beliefs are far from the truth. "Those who reject it don't get it," Williams said.

AP course in African American studies brings black history to life for these Tulsa students | CNN (5)

Shilan Her takes notes as Darren Williams teaches students in the AP African American History course.

The College Board defended the course, saying in an emailed statement to CNN in March that it "provides students with a solid foundation of facts and evidence about African American history and culture." On aseparate statementin February, the College Board said criticism surrounding the course "has moved from healthy debate to misinformation."

Despite the national outcry, Rabovsky says the AP course in African American Studies gives students a chance to learn critical thinking and writing skills and prepares them for college, and that she sees the political battle as "noise."

"If we don't talk about this story, we're just pretending it never happened," Rabovsky said. "Being a culturally responsive educator generally means having very difficult discussions. And we need to have these discussions often… when there are protests going on, when there is going on, when there is police brutality.”

Students say the course brings history to life

Down the hall from Williams' class, AP African American Studies students from Shekinah Hall gave presentations on notable figures in black history, including Zora Neale Hurston, a famous author, and Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, a famous historian.

Hall said he believes the course is unique because it focuses on more than just the pain and suffering experienced by African-Americans, but also on resilience, joy and the art of black history. It teaches students that slaves led the fight for their own freedom, Hall said.

AP course in African American studies brings black history to life for these Tulsa students | CNN (6)

Shekinah Hall reviews a student's presentation on black changemakers in history during her AP African-American History class Tuesday, March 29, at McLain High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

She rejected lawmakers' claim that the course indoctrinates students, saying instead that it provides facts and allows students to form their own opinions. It also helps students connect history with movements happening today, she says.

"I don't want the students to feel guilty because they weren't there," Hall said. "But what can we learn from this? And I think that's for every student, regardless of their race, creed or ethnicity. We need to know what's going on so we can do something better in the future."

AP course in African American studies brings black history to life for these Tulsa students | CNN (7)

Yalitza Hernandez is interviewed about her experience in the AP African American History class taught by Shekinah Hall.

Yalitza Hernandez, a 10th grader, said she feels the history she learned in previous grades has been "whitewashed." Hernandez said he particularly enjoyed the lesson on Afro-Caribbean history because it is part of his own ethnicity.

"We should learn these things because it is beneficial to us," Hernandez said. "It teaches us the real story behind the (African-American) people."

Shilan Her, an 11th grade student, said she didn't know much about the Tulsa Race massacre before taking the course.

"I think it's very interesting," Her said of the course. "That's a lot of new information for me. All this I never knew."

CNN's Ed Lavandera and Ashley Killough contributed.


Why is it important for Black students to learn Black history? ›

We all play a role in ensuring students have a complete and accurate understanding of the past. Our country has a rich and diverse history, and it is a disservice to all learners to not teach them about the intricacies of this. Black history is a valuable way to help instill empathy and understanding in kids.

How does African American studies benefit students? ›

The value of pursuing African American studies is gaining knowledge and an understanding of the past and present situation of African-descended people in the United States. This discipline prepares students to critically examine, explore, and analyze the unique experiences of African-descended people.

What are the benefits of learning African American history? ›

Learning about African American history allows students who are not African American to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the contributions of African Americans to the world we live in today. This is crucial for building an accepting, more cohesive, and inclusive community for tomorrow.

What do you learn about in African American studies? ›

Black Studies, or Africana Studies more broadly, is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach to studying and understanding the experiences of African people and African-descended people across the Diaspora.

What is the impact of learning Black history? ›

Learning history from the perspective of people that look like us helps us connect with history in a more personal way. It gives us pride and inspires us. It also gives us a greater appreciation for the sacrifices made by our ancestors in their fight for the civil rights that we enjoy today.

What is the importance of Black history to children? ›

Through Black History we learn so much about ourselves and our abilities to overcome challenges – big and small. We learn to reason and wonder about things morally. We also learn from the mistakes people made in the past and learn the importance of treating others with compassion. We learn to be givers and helpers.

What is the value of African studies? ›

Africana Studies offers some of the most diverse coursework ranging from art history to philosophy. It mixes theory and practice so that students are not learning solely from listening, but doing. It forces students to be active in the communities around them in a way like no other coursework.

What is the content of AP African American Studies? ›

The course framework is broken down into four units: Origins of the African Diaspora; Freedom, Enslavement and Resistance; the Practice of Freedom; and Movements and Debates.

How does ethnic studies benefit students? ›

Ethnic studies teaches students the breadth and depth of social issues in the United States and allows them to examine how activism and social movements can rectify inequality. Many students believe supporting social justice drives change.

Why is learning about African culture important? ›

Teaching about African history, politics, and culture supports our students' developing identities as global citizens. Additionally—and crucially—Africa has deeply shaped the cultural context of the United States, especially that of African American and African diasporic students.

What is the greatest achievement in African American history? ›

The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, ending slavery, and was codified in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.

Why is learning American history important? ›

Studying history helps us understand how events in the past made things the way they are today. With lessons from the past, we not only learn about ourselves and how we came to be, but also develop the ability to avoid mistakes and create better paths for our societies.

What is the fundamental purpose of Black Studies to teach? ›

One of the original aims of Black Studies (and the related fields of African-American and Africana Studies) was its pedagogical mission—to inspire people to learn deeply and critically about the African Diasporas' histories and contemporary social formations; to develop an incisive critique of Western civilization; and ...

What is African and African American Studies major? ›

Explore the history and culture of Black communities in Africa, the United States and the wider diaspora. African American and African studies is an interdisciplinary field of study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

What are three facts about Black history? ›


What is the purpose of Black history? ›

February marks Black History Month, a tradition that got its start in the Jim Crow era and was officially recognized in 1976 as part of the nation's bicentennial celebrations. It aims to honor the contributions that African Americans have made and to recognize their sacrifices.

How does history education impact students? ›

History Builds Empathy Through Studying the Lives and Struggles of Others. Studying the diversity of human experience helps us appreciate cultures, ideas, and traditions that are not our own – and to recognize them as meaningful products of specific times and places.

Who are some important figures in Black history? ›

7 Black History Heroes Every Student Should Know
  • Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Leader.
  • Serena Williams, Pro Athlete.
  • Malcolm X, Human Rights Activist.
  • Katherine Johnson, Mathematician.
  • Ruby Bridges, Civil Rights Activist.
  • Duke Ellington, American Composer.
  • Madam C.J. Walker, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist.
Feb 1, 2023

How do you teach children about African American culture? ›

Try to find books that will help prepare children for the complex world in which they live. Make sure your selections include contemporary stories. Celebrate Black culture and experiences, in addition to history, through picture books, chapter books, and poetry.

What are African values for life? ›

In African society, there are a set of values that guide the behavior of every member. Specific mention could be made of values such as hospitality, chastity before marriage, truth, respect for old age, covenant keeping, hard work and good character.

What is the difference between African Studies and African American Studies? ›

Black studies and Africana studies differ primarily in that Africana studies focuses on Africanity and the historical and cultural issues of Africa and its descendants, while Black studies was designed to deal with the uplift and development of the black (African-American) community in relationship to education and its ...

Does AP U.S. History look good for college? ›

For many students, AP U.S. History is worth it. Not only can this course prepare you for college-level courses, but it can also help you gain college credit before you graduate high school. If you want to study history in college, this course can help you jump-start your higher education journey.

Does AP World History look good for college? ›

In the case of AP World History, around 60% of test-takers earn a passing score and, potentially, college credit. The exam may save students thousands in college tuition, making it a worthwhile class. Even for students who do not take the AP exam or earn a passing score, the class builds valuable academic skills.

What is the most popular AP subject? ›

AP English Language and Composition is by far the most popular AP test, with over half a million students taking the exam in 2021. The test contains two sections: multiple choice (45 questions) and free response (three essay questions).

What is the value of ethnic studies? ›

It pays off academically in student performance and graduation rates. Researchers from the University of Arizona found students who participated in Mexican-American studies classes had a 10 percent greater chance of completing high school.

Why is ethnicity important in school? ›

Help students reflect on their own racial identities.

Young people who have explored their ethnic and racial background have a better understanding of the world in which they live and are able to draw on this when they experience or witness racial discrimination.

What are the core values of ethnic studies? ›

Cultivate empathy, community actualization, cultural perpetuity, self-worth, self determination, and the holistic well-being of all participants, especially Native People/s and People of Color.

What is the most important thing in African culture? ›


The most significant thing about the traditional society is that the political hierarchy begins with the family. Each family has a family head; each village has a village head.

Why is it important to learn about cultural diversity? ›

Students who learn about different cultures during their education feel more comfortable and safe with these differences later in life. This allows them to interact in a wider range of social groups and feel more confident in themselves as well as in their interactions with others.

What are 3 contributions of African Americans? ›

From the arts to medicine, education, music, cultural inventions, entrepreneurship, civil rights leaders, noble laureates, etcetera, Blacks have played an influential role in shaping America and are paid tribute to throughout the month.

What is the most important event in African American history? ›

Civil War and Emancipation, 1861.

What is the most important value of African American culture? ›

Despite the ignorance and insensitivity of their oppressors, they instilled in their children the values of honesty, integrity and treating their fellow humans with compassion, an attitude that prevails in many modern African American families.

What does American history teach you? ›

US History I curriculum topics should include: Voyages of Columbus and the relationship between the explorers and the American Indians. Colonization, the different colonies, and colonial life. The Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary war, the constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

What is the most important piece of American history? ›

Declaration of Independence, 1776

Perhaps the most well-known document in American history, the Declaration of Independence was completed on July 4, 1776.

How does history shape who you are? ›

History helps one to understand the immense complexity of our world and therefore enables one to cope with the problems and possibilities of the present and future. History provides us with a sense of identity. People need to develop a sense of their collective past. Events in the past have made us what we are today.

What are the five goals of Black Studies? ›

The five basic objectives of Black Studies are to teach the Black experience, to create knowledge leading to intellectual and political freedom, to engage Black intellectuals in community service, to connect the campus and the community, and to establish Black Studies as a legitimate and respected academic discipline.

What are the 3 areas of focus of Black Studies? ›

What are the three basic areas of focus of the Black Studies mission? Cultural grounding, academic excellence, and social responsibility.

What are the three essential commitments in the mission of Black Studies? ›

Thus, the mission of Black Studies stressed three basic areas of focus: cultural grounding, academic excellence, and social responsibility”.

What is African American Studies in College? ›

The College Board says African American studies is an interdisciplinary approach, with the rigors of scholarly inquiry, to analyze the history, culture, and contributions of people of African descent in the U.S., and throughout the African diaspora.

Why is it important to recognize Black history? ›

It's an opportunity to spotlight and celebrate the achievements that African Americans have accomplished in this country, despite the history of racism and oppression. Most of all, it is a time to teach or remind our children of the history lessons they might not learn as part of the everyday school curriculum.

Why is Black History Month important to me? ›

It's an opportunity to understand Black stories, uplift Black voices and spotlight those who have made a difference in our culture and history. Black History Month means looking back at the impact pioneers and leaders of the Black community have had on our community, organizations and cities.

What is the fundamental purpose of black studies to teach? ›

One of the original aims of Black Studies (and the related fields of African-American and Africana Studies) was its pedagogical mission—to inspire people to learn deeply and critically about the African Diasporas' histories and contemporary social formations; to develop an incisive critique of Western civilization; and ...

What is the importance of African American literature? ›

Black literature is important because it widens the scope of how Black people have been viewed throughout history. Through authors like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, Black literature has exposed the world to new perspectives about race and enslavement.

What does black history mean to people? ›

Black History Month is a time for us to celebrate, remember and honor the history and accomplishments of Black people. It is a time for us to reflect on how far we have come as a nation but also how far we have to go for true equality.

What are three facts about black history? ›


What is the most important event in black history? ›

Civil War and Emancipation, 1861.

Did you know black history facts? ›

Black History Month Trivia
  • William Tucker, son of indentured servants from Great Britain, was the first recorded African child to be born in the colonies in 1624.
  • Vermont was the first colony to ban slavery in 1777.
  • In the 1770s, a Quaker named Anthony Benezet created the first school for African American children.
Jan 11, 2022

What does black history colors mean? ›

Important Colors

Black, which represents resilience; Red, which is meant to symbolize the blood of innocent Black lives shed throughout history; Yellow, which is meant to convey optimism, justice, and equality; Green, which is used to symbolize Africa's rich greenery and other natural resources.

What is the conclusion of Black History Month? ›

Conclusion. Black History Month serves as an important reminder of the immense contributions African Americans have made to our nation. From entrepreneurs and inventors to politicians and civil rights activists, these individuals have worked tirelessly to improve society and create a more equitable future for all.

What are the three basic areas of focus of the Black Studies Mission? ›

These three areas of development are in keeping with and reflect the three areas of focus for the larger mission of the Black Studies discipline: cultural grounding, academic excellence, and social responsibility.


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