The nonprofit that dictates curriculum for Advanced Placement courses has unveiled a pared-down version of a course about African American history that cut out works from a famed author and civil rights activist from Kentucky following criticism from a high-profile governor.
bell hooks, who published nationally recognized writings on race, class, feminism, art and other topics, is one of several Black authors who have been dropped from the AP African American Studies curriculum, according to the New York Times. The new curriculum was released by the College Board after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly denounced the College Board’s original plans, though the Associated Press reported the board said revisions were "substantially complete" before the criticism.
hooks, born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was a prominent leader of feminist literature. She published more than 30 books on topics ranging from race to gender to class, often exploring "perceptions of Black women and Black women writers." hooks died in 2021 from renal failure at her home in Berea, where she had worked as a distinguished professor in residence for several years.
A statement from the College Board outlines the differences between the official curriculum and the initial version, describing the changes an “overall reduction in the breadth of the course.” Additionally, a small number of additional topics were added to the course that were “not adequately represented in the pilot version," the board wrote. The New York Times reported one such topic is “Black conservatism,” offered as a possible research project.
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“No one is excluded from this course: the Black artists and inventors whose achievements have come to light; the Black women and men, including gay Americans, who played pivotal roles in the civil rights movement; and people of faith from all backgrounds who contributed to the antislavery and civil rights causes. Everyone is seen,” said David Coleman, CEO of the College Board.
hooks is not the only Black author associated with critical topics who was cut from the course. Ta-Nehisi Coates, an author who has argued for reparations for slavery, was removed, according to the New York Times, along with works by Roderick Ferguson, a professor at Yale who’s written about LGBTQ issues, and Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a Columbia professor associated with critical race theory.
DeSantis, commonly cited as a possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate, had said he would block AP African American Studies courses in his state because he believed they pushed a progressive political agenda by including topics such as critical race theory, the notion that racism precedes the individual and is embedded into American society. USA TODAY reported several Black community leaders and other political figures across the country spoke out against DeSantis' decision in January.
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Contact reporter Rae Johnson at [email protected]. Follow them on Twitter at @RaeJ_33.