On the first day of Black History Month, College Board released the new framework for their Advanced Placement African American Studies course, revealing that they had altered the curriculum from what was previously released in the pilot course. 

The original curriculum was disputed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)and other state representatives, who called for the removal of certain topics and readings. The new framework drops all studies of the Black Lives Matter Movement, limiting this topic to a singular visual project. Other units that were removed from the original curriculum include Black queer studies, Black feminist literary thought, and intersectionality and activism.

On Twitter, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. called the AP African American Studies course “woke indoctrination masquerading as education.” This view and the ideas of the state government are being challenged by students and academics far and wide, as selective groups are removed from the material.

A group of three students in Florida threatened to sue the DeSantis administration over a ban of this course. These students have received a lot of media attention as well as the support of many influential people in the state. “He wants to say that I do not belong, he wants to say that you don’t belong and whose story does — and doesn’t — get to count. But we are here to tell him: We are America” said state Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-FL), who is Black.

Over 800 college and university professors from across the country came together in support of the original curriculum by writing an open letter. This letter states “This is censorship and a frontal attack on academic freedom. We categorically reject DeSantis’s autocratic claim to knowing what college-level material should be available in an AP African American Studies course.” 

The Afro and African American Studies department at Brandeis was established as a part of the Ford Hall Occupation of 1969, as one of the ten demands listed by the Brandeis Afro-American Organization. The first demand on the list was “an African Studies department with the power to hire and fire.” 

In 2015, students on the Brandeis campus orchestrated a very similar sit-in. Their demands centered on a need for diversity, including increased funding for Black student organizations and programs on campus, as well as an “increase in the number of tenure tracks across all Brandeis faculty across ALL departments and schools” as stated in the Ford Hall 2015 list of demands. Brandeis is gradually working toward a more diverse community, and this can be seen in some of the classes taught at Brandeis, such as “African Women’s and Gender Studies” (AAAS). These courses mirror elements of the AP African American Studies framework that were removed.

Prof. Yacob-Hilaso (AAAS) explained in a March 5 interview with the Justice that, “There really is a hunger among young people and college students in the United States to learn more about the history of African Americans in this country and to entertain critical perspectives that challenge what they already know. I think the political opposition to some elements of the new AP African American Studies course does not adequately take this fact into account.”