A Reading List of Authors Removed from the AP African American Studies CourseHistorians in the News
tags: Florida, African American history, teaching history, Black Studies, critical race theory, Ron DeSantis
Last week the state of Florida made national headlines for rejecting a pilot Advanced Placement African American Studies high school course. Governor Ron DeSantis has since doubled down on the ban, calling it a form of “indoctrination” and insisting that the College Board’s proposed curriculum violates the “Stop WOKE Act”—a bill DeSantis signed into law last year that restricts teaching about race in the classroom.
Explaining its decision, the state’s Department of Education cited numerous authors on the proposed course syllabus. Among them is UCLA Distinguished Professor of U.S. History and Boston Review contributing editor Robin D. G. Kelley, whose Boston Review forum essay “Black Study, Black Struggle” was singled out in a graphic released on Twitter by the state’s education commissioner. (In a clear instance of red baiting, one of the state’s “concerns” is simply the fact that “Kelley’s first book was a study of Black communists in Alabama.”)
Whether any of the Florida officials involved in the decision have read Kelley’s work is doubtful. As Kelley pointed out to the Los Angeles Times last week, one of the central arguments of his BR essay is that “reading Black experience through trauma can easily slip into thinking of ourselves as victims and objects rather than agents,” a point that politicians who frequently rail against the “culture of victimhood” ought to find congenial. Rather than victimization, Kelley emphasizes “how we have fought for justice not just for Black people but for the whole nation (yes, including struggling white people), despite the violence and oppression we have experienced.”
To kick off Black History Month, we compiled Boston Review essays by the pioneering Black scholars Florida officials don’t want students to read. In addition to work by other authors the state cited in its decision—including legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, philosopher-activist Angela Davis, and the late feminist writer bell hooks—the list features several others on the proposed course syllabus: Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, social movement scholar and New Yorker contributor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, historian Nell Irvin Painter, Pulitzer Prize–winning Malcolm X biographer Manning Marable, political scientist Cathy Cohen, and scholar-filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr. We also include David Theo Goldberg’s recent analysis of the right’s attack on critical race theory.
Update: The College Board has now released an updated curriculum, stripped of any reference to Crenshaw, Davis, hooks, and Kelley.
comments powered by Disqus
- Josh Hawley Earns F in Early American History
- Does Germany's Holocaust Education Give Cover to Nativism?
- "Car Brain" Has Long Normalized Carnage on the Roads
- Hawley's Use of Fake Patrick Henry Quote a Revealing Error
- Health Researchers Show Segregation 100 Years Ago Harmed Black Health, and Effects Continue Today
- Nelson Lichtenstein on a Half Century of Labor History
- Can America Handle a 250th Anniversary?
- New Research Shows British Industrialization Drew Ironworking Methods from Colonized and Enslaved Jamaicans
- The American Revolution Remains a Hotly Contested Symbolic Field
- Untangling Fact and Fiction in the Story of a Nazi-Era Brothel