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Sixty high schools across the US  have started offering Advanced Placement courses on African American studies even as the nationwide upheaval over a race-based curriculum divides politicians, school boards, teachers and students.

The College Board, a non-profit organization, announced a pilot program in February and courses have now begun with the start of the school year. The curriculum will reportedly be an interdisciplinary look at the history of civil rights, as well as African American music, literature, the arts and humanities, political science, geography, science – and will explore the vital contributions and experiences of Black folks.

The pilot program will also expand the following academic year to add additional schools. The course is expected to be available to all interested high schools in the 2024-25 school year, allowing time to secure valuable credit and placement policies at colleges and universities, according to the College Board.

According to CNN, high school teachers involved in the African American Studies pilot gathered at Howard University this summer to review the course framework and prepare for the course launch, part of the comprehensive support that AP offers for educators, the College Board explained.

Renowned educator Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. praised the new educational framework, saying the course is “rigorously vetted” and should not be confused with the critical race theory concept, which has become a social and political lightning rod.

So far this year, 36 states have proposed 137 bills seeking to restrict teaching on race and gender, up from 22 states and 54 bills last year, according to a report by PEN America.

“Nothing is more dramatic than having the College Board launch an AP course in a field — that signifies ultimate acceptance and ultimate academic legitimacy,” Gates said in a statement. “AP African American Studies is not CRT. It’s not the 1619 Project. It is a mainstream, rigorously vetted, academic approach to a vibrant field of study.”

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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