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Advanced Placement African American Studies Classes Debut at 60 U.S. High Schools

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The College Board has announced it will begin offering an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course at 60 high schools across the U.S. this fall.

The AP program, which traditionally gives high school students an opportunity to take college-level courses before graduation, currently covers 38 subjects, including  U.S. government and politics, biology, chemistry, English, European History and art history.

The AP African American Studies course is the College Board’s first new offering since 2014, according to TIME, and the multi-disciplinary course will cover over 400 years of African American history, literature, civil rights, politics, the arts, culture and geography.

Though a pilot program currently, the aim is by the 2024-2025 school year for this AP offering to be the first course in African American studies for U.S. high school students that is considered rigorous enough to allow students to receive credit and advanced placement at colleges across the country.

To quote the New York Times:

The plan for an Advanced Placement course is a significant step in acknowledging the field of African American studies, more than 50 years after what has been credited as the first Black studies department was started after a student strike at San Francisco State College in 1968, said Henry Louis Gates Jr., a former chair of Harvard’s department of African and African American studies and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

“In the history of any field, in the history of any discipline in the academy, there are always milestones indicating the degree of institutionalization,” said Dr. Gates, who is a consultant to the project along with a colleague, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. “These are milestones which signify the acceptance of a field as being quote-unquote ‘academic’ and quote-unquote ‘legitimate.’”

Students will take a pilot exam but will not receive scores or college credit, according to the College Board.

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