High school students across the country will now have the option to take African American Advanced Placement courses for the first time in history, reports NBC News. In total, 60 schools across the U.S. will offer the new AP class as part of their fall curriculum. Additional schools are expected to be added next year. 

The new course offerings are a part of the College Board’s new pilot program and was developed by high school teachers at Howard University during its AP Summer Institutes program.

Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and instruction at the College Board spoke about the importance of the courses being introduced at the high school level.

“AP African American Studies will introduce a new generation of students to the amazingly rich cultural, artistic, and political contributions of African Americans,” said Packer. “We hope it will broaden the invitation to Advanced Placement and inspire students with a fuller appreciation of the American story.”

The African American AP classes are the College Board’s first course since 2014 and the 40th course it has developed. Students can also receive college credit from the courses.

One of the high school that has elected to offer the courses is The Florida State University Schools in Tallahassee. The courses will be taught by the school's social studies instructor Marlon Williams-Clark. He started teaching two African American AP courses on August 8, 2022 to a class made up of mostly Black seniors and juniors.

“They have come in and are ready to like, just dive into some tough conversations,” said Williams-Clark said, “and I just really appreciate their curiosity to express what they don’t know, what they want to know, and what they think they know.”

His course covered the origins of the African diaspora, the Atlantic slave trade, the era of Reconstruction, the Black Power Movement,

The introduction of AP African American courses comes at a time when school boards are fighting over critical race theory in public schools. In several school systems across the country, there are bills proposed to prevent schools from teaching students about institutional and historical racism.

Williams-Clark hopes the African American studies classes will also help the teachers who will teach the courses.

“By students learning this information earlier, it gives a greater sense of understanding and empathy for people’s experiences or walks of life that is different than their own,” Williams-Clark said. “When we look at what’s happening in our country and the division that’s happening right now, it will actually bring us closer together by having a better understanding of each other.”