Uriah Williams cannot believe the AP African American Studies debacle

A Pilot Student is in disbelief with Governor Ron DeSantis’ rejection


Lauren King

The AP African American Studies ban has appalled and upset many students who were excited to learn more about their history.

It was a normal school morning for junior Uriah Williams when it first happened. Working on an assignment in his African American History Honors class with his table, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. That was until the news made an announcement: Governor Ron DeSantis rejected AP African American Studies.

“There were various stages of disbelief. Firstly, I couldn’t believe the news that the course had been denied. Then the disbelief deepened when I heard the verbiage being used to describe the course,” Williams said. “To use such strong and negative language to describe something attached to an entire people seemed like a blatant attack.”

The letter from the Florida Department of Education read: “the curriculum is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”

There is an 82-page curriculum preview for APAAS from Feb. 2022, when it was still early in the planning phase.

“I was speechless when I found out that this is the first time that a state has rejected a course proposed by the College Board,” Williams said.

The framework for the curriculum was released on Feb. 1., 2023: starting with magnificent ancient African kingdoms to the cruelty of slavery to a long fight for freedom. The focus points in the curriculum are African history from the 1800s to the 1900s. This includes the American Revolution, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, and various civil rights movements. Another area of criteria for education is learning the achievements of Black artists, inventors, and civil rights figures. Included are those who bravely fought for gay rights in a time period that was already so marginalized.

Oviedo High School was to be a pilot for APAAS for 2024. Jessica Jenkins is the teacher for Honors African American History, available for 10th-12th graders. She would have taught the course for APAAS.

“I was interested in taking the course. I’m at the age where it’s my responsibility to take the time to learn my history,” Williams said. “There comes a time where we all must face history. Not in shame or bias, but to simply learn.”

Uncertainty filled the air for students and teachers alike at the news of the course being rejected, but SCPS Deputy Superintendent Jason Wysong provided information in an email:

“Over the years, courses have been added and deleted at each high school for a variety of reasons. Dr. Daniel and her leadership team will ensure that students receive other classes, including the option to register for one of the other African American History courses authorized in the Course Code Directory.”

For the meantime, this is the only option left for students. There are updates in the news and media everyday, as this investigation is ongoing. Attorney Ben Crump is pursuing a lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis. Many students in Florida are speaking out about this. Some of the bravest are seeking legal action.

Although, there is hope for the course returning to the table.

“Proper awareness can be a tool to enact positive change,” Williams said. “The people of our state are making their voices known and I feel it will get to the point where the government won’t have a choice.”