Florida rejects AP African-American studies course: Here’s what it really teaches

top line

Florida has drawn widespread controversy for rejecting an AP African-American studies course that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his administration say “serves no educational purpose” and pushes a “political agenda,” even though the issues the state is addressing has opposed making up only a very small portion of the course’s full curriculum encompasses African-American history and culture.

key facts

The AP course was designed by about 20 college professors from across the country to provide a comprehensive overview of African-American culture and history, according to one of the professors involved, and is now being tested in schools before rolling out nationally.

The AP course will focus on black communities in the US but place them in the context of the broader African diaspora, according to a copy of the curriculum released by NBC News.

The course has four main units: the history of the African Diaspora, the period of slavery and abolition in the US, African-American experiences since slavery was abolished, and various Black movements and debates, including feminism, black power and the civil rights movement, along with African-American experiences today.

Within those four units are 102 smaller subtopics covering history, culture, and concepts like cultural appropriation and “post-racial racism,” including June 19, the Harlem Renaissance, literature, music, service military and black suffrage.

The Florida Department of Education saying The state’s rejection of the course was based on six of those subthemes: intersectionality and activism; Queer Black Studies; Movements for Black Lives; black feminist literary thought; the Black Study and Reparations Movement and Black Struggle in the 21st Century.

He cited concerns such as that “intersectionality is critical to [Critical Race Theory]”, course materials advocating for prison repairs and abolition, and readings by thinkers like Bell Hooks, who the state complained about authoring “intersectionality texts” and wrote about “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” .


Florida cited Critical Race Theory as a reason for rejecting the AP class, after the state banned the concept from being taught in schools. Tinson told NPR that no critical career theory is taught in the AP course, however, noting that the theory framework is “too advanced for high school students, even in a college-level course.”

crucial appointment

“The purpose [of the course] it is not to indoctrinate [students] or guide them into some kind of political philosophy,” said Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a professor of African American Studies at Harvard University who advised on the creation of the course, in Washington Post in December. “History is much more complex than just whites against blacks.”

amazing fact

Florida’s rejection of the course comes despite the state legally requiring schools to teach African-American history. A statute in state law requires that African American studies and history be taught to help students “develop an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotypes on individual liberties.” The statute says that the instruction “may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view” that goes against “state academic standards,” as claimed by the state that makes the AP course.

what to observe

AP African American Studies is now being piloted in approximately 60 high schools across the country, the To post reports, and will be available for any high school to offer beginning in the 2024-2025 school year.

key background

Florida officials confirmed last week that they had rejected the AP African American Studies course, with the state Department of Education saying the course “lacks educational value and historical accuracy.” The move has since become a national controversy, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying the Biden Administration found the move “incomprehensible” and “troubling” and that religious leaders and civil rights leaders in Florida organized a statewide response in opposition. DeSantis doubled down on the state’s opposition to the course at a news conference Monday, claiming the curriculum was furthering a “political agenda” and pointing to her studies in “queer theory” and “intersectionality” to defend the measure. The rejection of the course is part of a broader range of controversial efforts DeSantis and his administration have pushed to push for more right-wing policies in Florida education and to ban supposedly “woke” ideologies, such as enacting laws restricting LGBTQ issues. and the teaching that students do feel that they bear “personal responsibility” for historical discrimination and place restrictions on the materials that classroom libraries can carry.

Other reading

DeSantis defends Florida rejecting AP African-American studies course (Forbes)

Rejection of AP studies, restriction of libraries: Here’s how DeSantis and his ‘Anti-Woke’ policies are affecting Florida education (Forbes)

Here’s What’s in Florida’s Rejected AP African American Studies Course (NBC News)

Florida says the AP class teaches critical race theory. Here’s What’s Really On The Course (NPR)

Teens embrace AP class featuring black history, a topic under attack (Washington Post)