RICHMOND — Alleghany County and Covington schools are among 16 school divisions in the state that will offer a new high school elective in African American history this academic year.
“Black history is American history, but for too long, the story we have told was insufficient and inadequate,” said Gov. Ralph 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,” he added.
Last year, Northam directed the Virginia Department of Education 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.
Now complete, the full-credit course surveys African American history from precolonial Africa through today. It 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, including many not traditionally highlighted, and their contributions to the story of Virginia and America.
“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.”
Teachers presenting the course will receive professional development and support throughout the year.
The training will focus on building content capacity, developing a deeper knowledge of African American history, strengthening culturally responsive instructional practices, and the use of anti-biased/anti-racist education practices.
Educators will also collaborate in the development of resources and materials for future use as the course expands to additional school divisions.
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