'Black history is American history.' DPS offers advanced courses on African American contributions

Akilah Davis Image
Monday, February 6, 2023
Durham Public Schools offers AP courses on Black History
"Those types of courses are needed. It just has to be taught in the right way."

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- For 18 year Mikal Ali, Black history was first taught at home. His mother empowered her children through the stories of their ancestors. She encouraged Ali to learn more through classes offered at school.

"My mom was a big advocate for learning our history," said Ali. "It's important for us to understand the knowledge of self. That way, we can stay rooted and take the character of these leaders in history that look like us can been through the same trials and tribulations. Try to use that to make our own character to guide us as to how we should act in life."

The senior student took classes and other programs throughout his high school career. Durham Public Schools give students the opportunity to take a deeper dive in African American and Latin studies. In fact, the school district is one of 60 school districts nationwide to pilot AP African American studies.

" We do not want to teach American history out the voices of Black people. We do not want to teach American history and leave out voices of Latino Americans or Indigenous people. All those voices are vital to giving a comprehensive view of the American story."

" You cannot learn about American history without learning about the contributions of several diverse groups that live and thrive here in the us. Black people are a key component of American History," said Dr. Kelvin Bullock, executive director of Durham Public Schools Equity and Professional Learning.

This comes as Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis restricts instruction on race and diversity. His latest directive requires school districts cover up or remove books from the classroom that teach privilege or oppression based on race.

"There are efforts to silence key historical voices in the story of American history. It doesn't allow students to understand the truth of who we are," he said.

It's a truth Ali will continue to pursue as he heads Duke University this fall on a full-ride scholarship. He's planning to major in biology, but take several African American courses along the way.

"Those types of courses are needed. It just has to be taught in the right way," said Ali.

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