Virginia NAACP responds to Youngkin’s review of African American studies course

The Virginia chapter of the NAACP released a statement Friday condemning Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s review of an Advanced Placement African American Studies course that was to be held in state schools.

“There should be no question as to whether African American Studies is a worthy topic of study from an administration that stated a desire to teach all of American history,” the chapter said in the statement.

Youngkin’s team announced the course would be under review earlier this week. An executive order issued in the beginning of the governor’s term called for schools to stop teaching concepts deemed inherently divisive, including critical race theory.

Amy Tillerson-Brown, the education chair of the chapter, said Youngkin is using the order to “target the content and validity of AP African American Studies courses, which is contradicting his desire to teach a full and accurate history to students in the Commonwealth.”

On Wednesday, Fairfax County school board member Laura Jane Cohen told WTOP, “It’s a repeated pattern of trying to erase real history. In Virginia, we have a long way to go.”

The course, which was initially criticized after a draft was leaked to the public, will draw from a variety of fields — history, literature, the arts, geography, science — “to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans,” according to the College Board.

Advanced Placement courses are managed by the College Board and give high school students the chance to earn college credit after completing an assessment at the end of the school year with a score out of five.

“The Virginia NAACP firmly believes that if school curriculums do not include and value the history and culture of Black people, then it is impossible to value the Black people that learn and work in Virginia’s schools,” the statement reads.

Chapter President Robert B. Barnette, Jr. added, “When Black children cannot see themselves and their experiences reflected in the history of this country, their humanity is diminished, and it leaves them vulnerable to attack.”

The content of the course was thrust into the spotlight after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blocked it last month, stating it violated state law and is historically inaccurate.

In the version released Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that it downplays some components that had drawn criticism from DeSantis and other conservatives — including topics like Black Lives Matter, slavery reparations and queer life.

Mississippi, North Dakota and Arkansas are also reviewing the course’s content.

A decision has not yet been made about whether to ban the course from Virginia schools or not.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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