GENEVA, N.Y. — The College Board is getting ready to roll out a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies to high schools all across the country.
In Ms. Taylor's classroom at Geneva High School, African American literature isn't just discussed, it's celebrated.
"Every day we start with a new quote from a Black person in history, and pretty much everybody we talk about every single day when we start here is someone who has done something amazing,” senior Brandy Rivera said.
Students like Nyveah Johnson love learning more about their roots.
"I think it really relates to my background and history, and the things that I go through every day," Johnson said.
While other students like Rivera just want to learn more about a culture different from their own heritage.
"I love culture,” Rivera said. "I love language, and I love learning about different things. So I just want to learn more and be more aware of my community here."
This course has been offered at Geneva for eight years, an extremely diverse district where a majority of their students are non-white.
"In terms of college and career readiness, we're going to send students out into the world able to appreciate a broad perspective from others,” Geneva High School Principal Greg Baker said.
And the College Board is preparing to roll out a similar Advanced Placement course next year called African American studies, which students would be able to complete and then take an exam for college credit.
"It's academically rigorous, it's relevant. I really appreciate that AP is offering a diverse array of opportunities," Baker said.
The course will cover everything from early African kingdoms, to slavery, reconstruction and the cultural achievements of Black Americans. It's being piloted in certain high schools across the country. But Samyrah Williams looks forward to the dialogue expanding nationwide.
"Every time I learn something new, I just spread it on," Williams said. "So I think if more schools and other places are taking this class, more students will learn more and want to pass it on to others and their friends, and their friends."
High schools would have to opt in for the course. But Superintendent Bo Wright says they're researching the decision carefully.
"We talk a lot about the windows and the mirrors," Wright said. "We want kids to be able to learn about and see into the lives of others, but we also want them to see themselves in the curriculum we offer."
And though these students will be graduating this year, they're thankful for the perspective they've gained.
"White history or whatever you want to call it, they usually only teach that, so to even be able to learn about African American or Black people's culture, it's really important," Johnson said. "Because there's always two sides to a story."
This course isn't without controversy. The College Board has already stripped down the curriculum, after complaints from the state of Florida in regards to its lessons on Black queer studies, reparations, the Black Lives Matter movement and intersectionality.
While Florida's education department has received backlash for the complaints, so has the College Board, some saying it bowed to political pressure. The Board denies having done so.