Miami-Dade Black affairs board chair urges compromise on African American course

After The Florida Department of Education announced that it would ban a new African American studies Advanced Placement course, the College Board responded on Wednesday with a new 234-page framework that excludes the topics of “queer life” and Black Lives Matter from exams, but includes them as options for student projects.

MIAMI – Pierre Rutledge was chairing a Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday and he applauded The College Board’s decision to review a controversial course’s curriculum.

After The Florida Department of Education announced that it would ban a new African American studies Advanced Placement course, the College Board responded Wednesday with a new 234-page framework.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he had a legislative plan to block the state’s programs on Critical Race Theory, or CRT, which explores issues of systemic racism, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, also known as DEI.

“We can get into the weeds and try to define critical race theory and who diversity, equity, and inclusion affect,” Rutledge said. “I would say it affects everybody, Black, brown, other, gay, straight — it doesn’t matter; it affects everybody.”

The College Board’s compromise: The new framework excludes the topics of Black Queer studies, and Black Lives Matter from exams, but it includes them as options for student projects. It also eliminated sections on the “Black Struggle in the 21st Century” and “The Black Feminist Movement, Womanism, and Intersectionality” and references to “The Case for Reparations,” a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

It’s unclear if the changes will appease DeSantis. During his Wednesday morning news conference, DeSantis told reporters that he had not seen The College Board’s new framework for the optional AP course that he had strongly opposed to.

David Coleman, The College Board’s chief executive officer, released a statement describing the course as “an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture” and he added that “No one is excluded ... 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 movements; and people of faith from all backgrounds who contributed to the antislavery and Civil Rights causes.

The College Board reported consulting with over 300 college professors for the course that for now is part of a pilot program at 60 schools nationwide. Robert J. Patterson, a professor of African American Studies at Georgetown University, helped to develop the course.

“This refining process, which is a part of all AP courses, has operated independently from political pressure,” Patterson said in a statement.

DeSantis had criticized the course for promoting “political ideology” and “an agenda” and said his administration’s policy was to make sure students were getting an “education and not an indoctrination” and abide by Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, which he signed last year to ban CRT in public education.

Rutledge said the proposal has yet to make it to the legislative table, so he hopes that the state’s final decision on whether or not to allow the optional AP course in Florida public schools will consider everyone.

“We need to be intentional in terms of if we don’t agree, how can we get to the powers that be, to include the governor, to see where we can find some common medium that everybody will walk away from the table feeling like they’re a part of this great state that we live in,” Rutledge said.

About the Authors:

Annaliese Garcia joined Local 10 News in January 2020. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism. She began her career at Univision. Before arriving at Local 10, she was with NBC2 (WBBH-TV) covering Southwest Florida. She's glad to be back in Miami!

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.