Students, civil rights leaders to file lawsuit over state’s AP African American Studies course rejection

The Florida Department of Education requires the study of African American history but says this specific course “lacks educational value.”

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A spokesperson for civil rights attorney Ben Crump said on Wednesday he, alongside another attorney and three students, will file a lawsuit over the state rejecting an Advanced Placement African American Studies course.

Crump is set to speak alongside the students at a rally Wednesday afternoon in Tallahassee.

This month, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration rejected an AP African American Studies course, saying it “lacked educational value.”

A January 12 letter from Florida’s Office of Articulation said, “as presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”

DeSantis doubled down on this stance during a news conference in which he called the proposed course “indoctrination, not education.”  

Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz later said in a tweet,”…Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law. We proudly require the teaching of African American history. We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”

The state said if parts of the course are revised, it will revisit offering the course to high school students.

In reaction to the news, Clearwater/Upper Pinellas NAACP President Zebbie Atkinson IV told 10 Investigates, “It’s a shame that Governor DeSantis’ regime doesn’t want to tell the complete history of America, which does include African Americans and the trials and tribulations that we’ve gone through from being African to African American.”

The College Board, which develops curriculum for Advanced Placement courses, previously said in a statement to 10 Investigates:

“Like all new AP courses, AP African American Studies is undergoing a rigorous, multi-year pilot phase, collecting feedback from teachers, students, scholars and policymakers. The process of piloting and revising course frameworks is a standard part of any new AP course, and frameworks often change significantly as a result. 

“We will publicly release the updated course framework when it is completed and well before this class is widely available in American high schools. We look forward to bringing this rich and inspiring exploration of African-American history and culture to students across the country.”

The College Board announced it will release the framework for the course on Feb. 1.

Emerald Morrow is an investigative reporter with 10 Tampa Bay. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at

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