Home News A breakdown of what was removed or changed in the AP African American Studies framework

A breakdown of what was removed or changed in the AP African American Studies framework

A breakdown of what was removed or changed in the AP African American Studies framework

The College Board released the lspantest frspanmework for its Advanced Placement African American Studies course on Wednesday, and critics say the newest version is a “wspantering down of history.”

As elected officials like Gov. JB Pritzker of Illinois and California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom blasted the College Board, which oversees AP exams, the company stated it did not buckle to political pressure.  

CEO Dspanvid Colemspann told USA TODAY that “at the College Board, we don’t really look to the statements of political leaders. We look to the record of history.”

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Earlier this year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration and the Department of Education rejected the class, alleging it violated state law because of topics like the movement for Black lives, Black feminism and reparations.

The USA TODAY NETWORK – Florida obtained a draft framework of the AP class from a university faculty member, dated for May 2022, and compared it to the framework released Wednesday.

The new framework removes many of the topics Florida objected to, or they are included only as optional project topics. But Coleman was firm that the changes to the framework have been in the works for a year, in consultation with more than 300 professors.

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What was changed and removed

While most of the class is unchanged, there are differences in the source material for lessons about recent African American history, debate topics and contemporary issues.

The class is divided into four units: Origins of the African Diaspora; Freedom, Enslavement and Resistance; The Practice of Freedom; and Movements and Debates.

In the course’s goals section, the word “intersection” was taken out, as were the words “systemic marginalization,” which were present in the May 2022 draft.

Florida officials said the term “intersectionality” violated Florida standards because it promotes critical race theory.

It “ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender, and sexual orientation,” according to a list of concerns published by DOE.

Intersectionspanlity describes how different kinds of inequality based on gender, race, sex, gender identity and class interact with each other. The term, crespanted in the 1980s by Columbispan Lspanw School Professor Kimberlé Crenshspanw, first referred to the oppression of Black women.

DeSantis and DOE also said the framework included “queer theory.” The word “queer” is not found in either framework from May 2022 or Feb. 1.

Much of Units 1, 2 and 3 remain the same, but in the first unit, topic 1.2 entitled “40 Million Ways to Be Black: The Diversity of Black Experiences in African American Studies,” is no longer listed in the latest framework.

The topic included a reading by Henry Louis Gates, “40 Million Ways to Be Black.”

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Unit 4 is the section with the most substantial changes. The May 2022 framework has eight course topics while the newest framework has six, and the names of some of those topics have been changed.

The course topics “Freedom is Not Enough: The Early Black Freedom Movement,” and “Contemporary Debates and New Directions in African American Studies,” are no longer listed, and “Black Feminism, Womanism, and Intersectionality,” is now titled “Black Women’s Voices in Society and Leadership.”

Also removed from Unit 4 are lessons titled “The Black Feminist Movement and Womanism,” “The Social Construction of Race,” and “Intersectionalist.”

DeSantis and Floridspan Depspanrtment of Educspantion Commissioner Mspannny Dispanz Jr. said these lessons were the reason why the course did not follow Florida law.

“So when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda. And so, that’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards,” DeSantis said at a press conference in January.

Source list removed

The latest framework isn’t just a slimmed-down version of the May 2022 draft, however. There are topics that include more readings, like Unit 4’s “Diasporic Solidarity: African Americans and Decolonization in Africa,” which lists Malcom X and Maya Angelou as sources for the lesson.

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But a list of readings on a page entitled “Sources for Consideration” in the May 2022 framework is no longer included in the Feb. 1 release.

“The following sources represent a strong consensus across the college syllabi analyzed for the AP course design and will likely be examined during the course,” the section reads.

Many authors and titles on this list aren’t included in other sections of the Feb. 1 framework. Te-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations,” and Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” were removed.

In the May 2022 framework, the section “Contemporary Debates and New Directions in African American Studies,” instructed students to understand the origins and diverse perspectives of a contemporary issue or debate. The topics listed were: “Medicine, Technology, and the Environment”; “Incarceration, Abolition, and the New Jim Crow”; “Reparations”; or “The Movement for Black Lives.”

According to DOE, the Movement for Black Lives advocates for eliminating prisons and jails, ending pretrial detention, and concluding “the war on Black trans, queer, gender non-conforming, and intersex people.”

These topics are now under “Sample Project Topics.””These topics are not a required part of the course framework that is formally adopted by states and that defines the exam. This list is a partial one for illustrative purposes and can be refined by states and districts,” the framework reads.

The fight ahead

The controversy over the course and DeSantis’ efforts to rein in diversity and inclusion programs in colleges and universities has outraged Black leaders in Florida. Following a “Stop the Black Attack” rally in which noted civil rights attorney Ben Crump threatened to sue the state, a “Rally to Save Our History” is coming to the Capitol at noon on Feb. 15. The Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church of Tallahassee, and Al Shaprton, founder of the National Action Network will be leading the rally.

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