TEXAS -- The Texas State Board of Education has approved an African American studies course for students to take in public high schools. The course will be the second ethnic studies course offered to students alongside Mexican American studies. Some proponents of the new course though say implementing the curriculum was a hard-fought battle.
- Texas State Board of Education approves African American studies course for high schools
- Materials will leave out some key figures including Malcolm X
- Indigenous studies class planned for future
"It was a lot of work. We had a lot of people who have been involved in the struggle for many many years, and this was sort of like a dream come true," said UT Austin professor Dr. Kevin Cokley, who also serves as the director at the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis.
Dr. Cokley and others are celebrating a historic move by the state but they are being cautious. The state board approved the course but with revisions during its first virtual meeting on April 17.
"The curriculum that they will be taught will be important, it will be information that they've been exposed to that they need," said Dr. Cokley. "But, some of the elements that some of us believe are also very important, you know, will not be included."
Advocates say some historic African American figures will be left out of the coursework materials.
"You won't see any reference to Malcolm X, and I don't know about you, but I don't know how you can talk about history of African Americans without talking about the historical significance and contributions of someone like Malcolm X," said Dr. Cokley.
State board chair Dr. Kevin Ellis told Spectrum News that historical figures including Malcolm X were left out because they weren't in the hybrid curriculum first put in place by Dallas ISD. The chairman said no amendments were made to advocate for Malcolm X to be added. Instead he hopes teachers can pick up on what the books may leave out.
"Students will also learn about the underground railroad, but Harriet Tubman wasn't specifically mentioned in this course because you obviously can't discuss the underground railroad without discussing Harriet Tubman," said Dr. Ellis. "I think Malcolm X will be the same type of scenario."
While some may find it hard to agree on, it's a step forward to discuss and learn about the history of African Americans. An Indigenous studies class is also in the works and is slated to be implemented statewide after making its way through the state board.
"We think that all citizens should be fully educated about those aspects of our history that are very painful so that we don't every repeat them again," said Dr. Cokley. "To me it does no good to whitewash or sugarcoat or otherwise try and make very painful things palatable because certain people are uncomfortable with that part of our history."