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The Garfield Messenger

The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

The Newest AP Class At Garfield

Garfield is about to dive deeper into Black history.
The+Newest+AP+Class+At+Garfield

While students wait for the results of their AP exams to roll around, news is being made about a new AP course that will be offered next school year. AP African American Studies, or APAAS, is a course that you’re likely already familiar with. In 2022, controversy erupted in the state of Florida as the Ron DeSantis-governed state banned the APAAS pilot over accusations of “wokeness” and critical race theory. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many students at Garfield find the idea of a woke and racially conscious course in the AP program, a program continuously derided as exclusionary and segregated here, as oxymoronic. While Florida and Arkansas have banned APAAS, Garfield is planning on piloting the course next year.

As described by the CollegeBoard, APAAS will “explore key topics that extend from early African kingdoms to the ongoing challenges and achievements of the contemporary moment.” The class will be segmented into four primary units: Pre-colonial African civilization (900BCE-1500s), the Transatlantic slave trade until the end of the Civil War (1500s-1865), the Reconstruction era up to WWII (1865-1940s), and ends with the post-war era and modern developments (1940s-2000s). Though covering history chronologically, it is not strictly a history class and is designed to be interdisciplinary. The class will be available to rising juniors as their 11th-grade U.S. History credit (substituting APUSH and U.S. Ethnic Studies). APAAS will also be available to rising seniors, but solely as an elective. 

Pilots for APAAS were conducted from the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school year in select schools but social studies department head and history teacher Daniel Young described Garfield as not yet ready to roll it out. Multiple other schools in the district such as Roosevelt and Franklin also considered an APAAS class but did not go through with it; leaving Garfield as the only school in the district teaching the class. A major criticism of APAAS at Garfield is the fact that there are no Black history teachers to instruct the course. Though not ideal, Young says that it shouldn’t “hold us back from providing students with the opportunity – to learn about this important history, culture, and identity.” As of now, Richard Truax, the current 9th-grade world history and 11th-grade AP U.S. history teacher will be instructing the class. Truax highlighted the importance by saying that “when you consider that we banned the importation of slaves in 1811, the vast majority of African Americans can trace their ancestral history back to colonial times. There are very few Americans who can do that. The course is thus a chance to focus on and to celebrate that history.” Due to SPS’s current budget deficit, the only supplemental financial support for the social studies department concerning AP African American Studies is a 4-day summer training for Young and Truax covering the course framework. As such, the social studies department will be utilizing part of the money already granted to ethnic studies to support the class throughout next year.

Of the 27 students currently enrolled, the majority of them are of color. AP African American Studies is a massive step forward for a more inclusive and integrated AP program, which at Garfield continues to be noticeably divided along lines of race and class.

If you’re interested in learning or enrolling in AP African American Studies, you can contact Mr. Young via his school email or in person.

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About the Contributors
Ibrahim Coker is a junior staffing for the first time ever for the Garfield Messenger. He is passionate about history, creative literature, and being the only remaining fan of The Walking Dead show. In his free time he enjoys spending hundreds on baking equipment just to horribly botch the recipe.
Dahlia Huang (She/Her)
Dahlia is a 16 year-old sophomore attending Garfield High School. When she is not working overtime for the Messenger, she enjoys the outdoors, playing tennis with Naomi Osaka, watching films, and trying obscure ice cream flavors.

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