The College Board, which administers the SAT and AP courses, announced the new African American Studies AP course last week.
The new course will be available to students at 60 high schools across the country as part of a pilot program that will not count for college credits this year. AP courses typically allow high school students to earn early college credit.
About 200 high schools will offer the course in the 2023-24 school year, and it will become even more widely available the following year.
The course will cover about 400 years of history as well as some literature, politics, and geography.
Trevor Packer, head of the College Board’s AP program, said George Floyd’s death and the backlash to it had a direct impact on the organization introducing the new AP course.
Floyd died in police custody in May 2020 after a Minneapolis law enforcement officer knelt on his neck during an arrest for about nine minutes, including after he passed out. His death sparked national outrage that led to violent riots in metropolitan areas around the country and popularized the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of murder in April last year and was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.
“The events surrounding George Floyd and the increased awareness and attention paid towards issues of inequity and unfairness and brutality directed towards African Americans caused me to wonder, ‘Would colleges be more receptive to an AP course in this discipline than they were 10 years ago?'” Packer told Time Magazine.
Packer also said the class “will introduce a new generation of students to the amazingly rich cultural, artistic, and political contributions of African Americans.”
“We hope it will broaden the invitation to Advanced Placement and inspire students with a fuller appreciation of the American story,” he told CBS.
The College Board has not added any new AP courses since 2014.
The course’s content is not yet publicly available. The College Board said it plans to publish the whole curriculum on the AP Program website in spring 2024.
The new course comes as at least 20 states have moved to crack down on Critical Race Theory content in school curricula, including Florida, Michigan, and New Hampshire.
CRT is an ideology that claims racism is systemic and permeates every aspect of American culture, and is also the explanation for all “inequities” between races. It has become a controversial issue among parents in school districts across the country as some do not want CRT taught in schools, while others support including it in curricula.
Last year, a large group of Republican senators wrote a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona criticizing the Biden administration’s proposal that public education respond to “the urgency of improving racial equity throughout our society, including in our education system.”
The administration’s proposal would “double down on divisive, radical, and historically-dubious buzzwords and propaganda,” the senators wrote.
“Americans never decided our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil,” the letter continued.