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Governor Northam announces launch of new African American history course for 16 Commonwealth school divisions

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Posted at 10:56 PM, Aug 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-29 22:56:15-04

RICHMOND - Governor Ralph Northam announced the launch of a new African American history course that will be available to 16 Commonwealth school divisions.

“Black history is American history, but for too long, the story we have told was insufficient and inadequate,” said Governor Northam. “The introduction of this groundbreaking course is a first step toward our shared goal of ensuring all Virginia students have a fuller, more accurate understanding of our history, and can draw important connections from those past events to our present day.”

On August 24, Northam directed the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to collaborate with Virtual Virginia, WHRO Public Media, and committees of history teachers, historians, and history professors to develop a new African American history course for high school students.

The course introduces students to key concepts in African American history, from early beginnings in Africa through the transatlantic slave trade, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights era and to the present. Students will learn about African American voices and their contributions to the story of Virginia and America.

The 16 school divisions offering the course this year include:

  • Alleghany County
  • Amherst County
  • Arlington County
  • Carroll County
  • Charlottesville
  • Chesterfield County
  • Covington
  • Franklin County
  • Henrico County
  • Henry County
  • Loudoun County
  • Norfolk
  • Portsmouth
  • Prince William County
  • Suffolk
  • Winchester

Students will be expected to do the following by the end of the course:

  • Identify and understand the African origins and developments of the Black experience in North America;
  • Evaluate how African Americans have shaped, contributed, and have been shaped by the institutions, policies, and laws established by federal, state, and local governments;
  • Evaluate and interpret the various paths of civic responsibility that led to quests for equality, justice, and freedom for individuals and communities facing barriers and oppression based on race, class, and gender; and
  • Analyze and understand how the institution of slavery in the United States shaped beliefs about race and the supremacy of one race over another and influenced America’s economy and politics

The course also includes a capstone project requiring students to conduct independent research on a question or problem of their choosing and to demonstrate a deeper understanding of African American history.

“We can expect young Virginians to understand the enduring impacts of systemic racism only when they fully understand both the oppression experienced by African Americans and their significant contributions to STEM, the arts, education, law, and advocacy,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “As a history teacher, I know that this course is long overdue and is a first step toward telling a more inclusive story about the past and how it has shaped the present.”