Denver educators react to removal of topics from AP African American Studies curriculum

Black history class photos
Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-02 09:39:26-05

DENVER – The College Board, a nonprofit that helps shape curriculum for U.S. high school advanced placement (AP) courses, released new framework Wednesday for AP African American Studies that removes references to recent movements and the Black LGBTQIA community.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other education leaders in Florida objected to the Black Lives Matter movement, reparations, and Black queer studies being included in AP African American Studies exams.

“I think people should be really, really concerned about what is taking shape,” said Devon Wright, Metropolitan State University of Denver assistant professor of Africana Studies.

Wright teaches classes on Black social movements, hip hop and the Black Lives Matter movement. He also lived most of his life in Florida and says he’s not shocked at DeSantis’ objections, However, he is disappointed in the College Board’s decision to give in to DeSantis’s demands.

“I knew, after the 2020 summer protests, there would be some kind of backlash to the DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) efforts, to the corporate statements on inclusion,” Wright said. “Governor DeSantis is obviously preparing to run his 2024 presidential campaign… and with this boldness, I think it is a rather bold move, inflammatory nonetheless, a bold move on the part of Governor DeSantis to essentially demonize African American studies in this way.”

Denver educators react to removal of topics from AP African American Studies curriculum

Wright says these types of decisions could have negative impacts on what students learn.

“They perhaps don't understand this anti-critical race theory hysteria, anti-woke, ideological politics that we're in now, but they're going to suffer nonetheless if they don't get, what I would argue, is a fair and equitable educational opportunity where AP education is concerned,” he said.

Denver Public School Board of Education Vice President Auon’tai Anderson says the College Board’s decision is one reason DPS leaders fought for improved Black history curriculum.

“We've passed the Know Justice, Know Peace resolution. It was led by four Black women that were students at Dr. Martin Luther King Early College. The resolution said we won't shy away from our painful history, we will teach it. Because they went to Washington, D.C. and walked through an African American History Museum and said, 'We learned more about our history there than we have in the Denver Public Schools,'” Anderson said. “So we changed our curriculum. We have the Black excellence plan, which ensures that our Black students and teachers and community, we're uplifting those stories, but also making sure we have equitable spaces for all of our students.”

Anderson says he hopes other Colorado districts consider passing similar resolutions

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