Updated Feb 3, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Here are some key cuts from the AP African American Studies curriculum

Photo of three red textbooks with the words "African-American History" printed on the binding. They are stacked on top of each other.

An African American history textbook sits on the shelf in an advanced placement social studies class at Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama on April 8, 2019. Photo: Julie Bennett for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The College Board's official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement African American Studies course excludes several concepts that were in the pilot course, including topics on Black Lives Matter and reparations.

The big picture: The changes come after strong backlash from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and conservative politicians who claim it teaches critical race theory, a college-level framework that is rarely taught in grade school but often conflated with teachings on systemic racism.

  • DeSantis' administration tried to block the course in January, telling the College Board that is "inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value."
  • The decision to exclude certain topics from the finalized curriculum has since faced its own swath of criticism, with many accusing the College Board of bowing to DeSantis.

Yes, but: The organization rejects that it made cuts because of political pressure.

  • "The fact of the matter is that this landmark course has been shaped over years by the most eminent scholars in the field, not political influence," the College Board said in a statement.

Here are some of the biggest differences between a 2022 draft of the curriculum obtained by the Miami Herald and the framework released this week.

Black Lives Matter movement

  • The pilot program curriculum included instruction on "the origins and mission of the Black Lives Matter movement and Movement for Black Lives."
  • The new curriculum does not require the BLM movement as a topic of instruction, instead noting it as a sample project topic on a list which the College Board says "can be refined by states and districts."

LGBTQ studies

  • The pilot curriculum included a section focused on "Black Queer Studies," which also included mention of works by writers such as Cathy Cohen, Roderick Ferguson and E. Patrick Johnson.
  • The new framework mentions Black lesbians' sense of exclusion from the civil rights movement and the women's movement in a section on Black women but does not include the term "queer studies" and only lists "Gay life and expression in Black communities" as a sample project topic and not a required topic.


  • Lessons in the pilot curriculum had highlighted the discourse around reparations for America's history of slavery and discrimination. Suggested texts included works by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a journalist and author who in 2014 published "The Case for Reparations" in The Atlantic.
  • The new framework only includes one mention of "reparations" as a sample project topic and not a required part of the course.

Mass incarceration

  • In the pilot curriculum, the course's instructional focus on Black lives today included teachings on the history of Black incarceration from the 13th Amendment to the present as well as its relationship to the larger prison industrial complex.
  • Students would have learned about the "relationship between carceral studies and abolition movements" through works by scholars such as Michelle Alexander, who is best known for her 2010 book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."
  • The new curriculum includes instruction on the exploitation of imprisoned African Americans during the early 1900s but mentions incarceration and criminal justice only once — also as a sample project topic and not required teaching.

Movement renamed

  • The unit on "The Black Feminist Movement and Womanism" was renamed to "Black Women and Movements in the 20th Century."
  • Several prominent Black women writers, including bell hooks, Audre Lorde and Alice Walker, are no longer in the curriculum.
  • The College Board in a statement after the release of the updated framework said that "no AP courses, not one, not ever, has required a list of secondary sources in their frameworks."

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