Civil Rights, Critical Race Theory, African American Studies AP Attacks Are New Jim Crow as Black History Month is Underway

By Robert Weiner and Sophia Hosford

Civil rights denials, Critical Race Theory (CRT) downing, and African American Studies AP attacks by some political leaders — denying the importance of actual history – are the New Jim Crow as Black History Month is underway.

In one of his first moves as newly anointed House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman, James Comer (R-KY), has dissolved the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Comer is not the only GOP powerhouse suppressing opportunities to study civil rights and miscarriages of racial justice.

The actions appear similar to those of bigoted racists after the Civil War. They are an attempt to deny rights to minorities, and in some cases and areas, to majorities. They are an attempt to alter the pulse of America, from expanding liberty for all to selective opportunity only for some.

Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R-FL) warfare on Civil rights, and the overarching CRT has expanded. DeSantis has banned diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) courses at state colleges in Florida. DeSantis has also attacked AP African American History, a course piloted by the College Board that is set to be available in schools beginning in the 2024-2025 school year according to the College Board website… but not in Florida. DeSantis said the course contributed to the  ‘advancement of a political agenda,” in a January 23 tweet.

The Florida Department of Education also claimed the course ‘lacked educational value’ according to a January 19 report from Politico. According to the College Board, the course reaches into a variety of fields to “explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans. ” The suppression of this vital material in Florida will only perpetuate the beliefs that DeSantis is preaching, any education that is not focused on the experience of successful and victorious white people is not one that Floridian students should be exposed to.

Following DeSantis’ rejection of the course, the College Board released a revised version of the course on February 1 according to the New York Times. The College Board removed the unit on the Black Lives Matter movement, going as far as to remove all mention of the movement from its framework.

On February 1, the first day of Black History month is when the College Board decided to tell the public, through its alteration of the course framework, that the Black Lives Matter movement was not important enough to them to include in a course dedicated to African American studies.

It is imperative that legislation is passed to mandate the offering of AP African American History in all 50 states and that the curriculum is not suppressed or changed at the beck and call of the GOP. The College Board needs to issue an apology for playing a role in suppressing important components of a course that took years to design.

The College Board also must reintroduce the parts of the course they removed and prove that they believe in the importance of AP African American Studies and all the good it will do in providing students a fuller and greater worldview and understanding of the contributions being made by African Americans.

According to a report from WFLA, Tampa’s NBC affiliate, and others, Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump is filing a lawsuit on behalf of students against DeSantis for his ban of the course, but the revisions made by the College Board have halted the lawsuit. This is not enough action.

In a January 20 statement Director of the ACLU of Florida, Tiffani Lennon called DeSantis’ banning of the course an ‘attack against free speech’ and a ‘dire threat to our democracy.’ Lennon’s words must be followed by action. The ACLU and others should sue the Florida Department of Education for banning a course that teaches critical stories and experiences of African Americans, ask the courts to protect free speech and the First Amendment, and stay (block) the ban.

Chairman Comer must also reinstate the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, as the existence of the subcommittee is especially important following the merciless killing of Tyre Nichols.

A governmental committee that addresses civil rights violations, criminal justice, and civil liberties is of paramount importance. The disbandment of such a committee tells the American people that these issues, issues that may impact them, are not important, and removing an educational opportunity that shares an experience they may be unfamiliar with is taking away an important and necessary perspective, understanding, and worldview.

Robert Weiner was the spokesman for the House Government Operations (now Oversight) Committee under Chairman John Conyers, the Clinton and Bush White Houses, and senior staff for Cong. Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, Charles Rangel, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. Sophia Hosford is a Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

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