BREAKING NEWS: Texas has first statewide African American studies course

After an extensive review, development and political process, Texas State Board of Education members Georgina Perez and Aicha Davis et al. have shepherded the first African American studies course to completion. Exclusive to Cloaking Inequity, I have obtained a draft of the new course that will receive a final vote today at the Texas State Board of Education. It is an outgrowth of a course from the Dallas Independent School District. There have been many people working behind the scenes on this course. As with many things in public policy, some people will take credit while other people did the work behind the scenes. So a special THANK YOU to those folks (Jamila Thomas, Joyce King etc.) who have put their hearts and passion into making this groundbreaking course happen. You know who you are.

While not perfect, as some important standards (organizations, individuals etc) were exited during the negotiations. Notably, several years ago we wrote, an extensive article in the Harvard Educational Review about the process that occurred in Texas relative to the US History standards).

Nevertheless, I am incredibly impressed and over the moon that Texas is leading the way and is responsible for this incredible milestone. Here is the first-of-its-kind statewide Texas African American studies course:

113.51. Ethnic Studies: African American Studies (One Credit).

(a)        General requirements. Students shall be awarded one credit for successful completion of this course. This course is recommended for students in Grades 10-12.

(b)       Introduction.

(1)        In Ethnic Studies: African American Studies, an elective course, students learn about the history and cultural contributions of African Americans. This course is designed to assist students in understanding issues and events from multiple perspectives. This course develops an understanding of the historical roots of African American culture, especially as it pertains to social, economic, and political interactions within the broader context of United States history. It requires an analysis of important ideas, social and cultural values, beliefs, and traditions. Knowledge of past achievements provides citizens of the 21st century with a broader context within which to address the many issues facing the United States.

(2)        To support the teaching of the essential knowledge and skills, the use of a variety of rich primary and secondary source material such as biographies, autobiographies, landmark cases of the U.S. Supreme Court, novels, speeches, letters, diaries, poetry, songs, and artwork is encouraged. Resources are available from museums, historical sites, presidential libraries, and local and state preservation societies.

(3)        The eight strands of the essential knowledge and skills for social studies are intended to be integrated for instructional purposes. Skills listed in the social studies skills strand in subsection (c) of this section should be incorporated into the teaching of all essential knowledge and skills for social studies. A greater depth of understanding of complex content material can be attained when integrated social studies content from the various disciplines and critical-thinking skills are taught together.

(4)        Students identify the role of the U.S. free enterprise system within the parameters of this course and understand that this system may also be referenced as capitalism or the free market system.

(5)        Throughout social studies in Kindergarten-Grade 12, students build a foundation in history; geography; economics; government; citizenship; culture; science, technology, and society; and social studies skills. The content, as appropriate for the grade level or course, enables students to understand the importance of patriotism, function in a free enterprise society, and appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation as referenced in the Texas Education Code (TEC),

  • 28.002(h).

(6)        Students understand that a constitutional republic is a representative form of government whose representatives derive their authority from the consent of the governed, serve for an established tenure, and are sworn to uphold the constitution.

(7)        State and federal laws mandate a variety of celebrations and observances, including Celebrate Freedom Week.

(A)       Each social studies class shall include, during Celebrate Freedom Week as provided under the TEC,

  • 29.907, or during another full school week as determined by the board of trustees of a school district, appropriate instruction concerning the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in their historical contexts. The study of the Declaration of Independence must include the study of the relationship of the ideas expressed in that document to subsequent American history, including the relationship of its ideas to the rich diversity of our people as a nation of immigrants, the American Revolution, the formulation of the U.S. Constitution, and the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the women’s suffrage, movement.

(B)       Each school district shall require that, during Celebrate Freedom Week or other week of instruction prescribed under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, students in Grades 3-12 study and recite the following text: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”

(8)        Students identify and discuss how the actions of U.S. citizens and the local, state, and federal governments have either met or failed to meet the ideals espoused in the founding documents.

(9)        Statements that contain the word “including” reference content that must be mastered, while those containing the phrase “such as” are intended as possible illustrative examples.

(c)        Knowledge and skills.

(1)        History. The student understands the influential historical points of reference in African history prior to 1619. The student is expected to:

(A)       identify the major eras, civilizations, and contributions of African history that are foundational to humanity and predate American slavery;

(B)       describe and compare the various pre-colonial, indigenous, and ancestral roots of African Americans such as, educational systems, social and political developments, family structures, global trade, and exchange; and

(C)       analyze the effects of dehumanization through the capture, trade, and enslavement of Africans, within a regional and global context, including the Atlantic Slave Trade.

(2)        History. The student understands the economic, political, and social development of slavery during the American colonial period, 1619 to 1775. The student is expected to:

(A)       analyze the the African diaspora, including the role of Africans and Europeans;

(B)       compare and contrast the colonization of North, Central, and South America and the West Indies and neighboring islands and analyze the interactions among enslaved Africans and Native Americans;

(C) describe and explain the impact of the Middle Passage on African American culture; and

(D) explain the causes for the growth and development of slavery, primarily in the Southern colonies.

(3)        History. The student understands the rationalization and ramifications for the continuation and growth of slavery and the anti-slavery movement in the United States from independence (1776) through the Emancipation Proclamation (1863). The student is expected to:

(A)       analyze the economic, social, religious, and legal rationalization used by some Americans to continue and expand slavery after declaring independence from Great Britain;

(B)       describe the impact of the Three-Fifths Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Act;

(C)       analyze the role that slavery played in the development of nationalism and sectionalism during the early 19th century;

(D)       analyze and evaluate various forms of individual and group resistance against the enslavement of African Americans;

(E)        analyze the influence of significant individuals and groups prior to and during the abolitionist movement to determine their impact on ending slavery, such as the work of David Walker, Elijah P. Lovejoy, John Brown, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, the American Anti-Slavery Society, and the Underground Railroad; and

(F)        analyze national and international abolition efforts, including the gradual emancipation of enslaved people in the north (1777-1804), the U.S. ban on the slave trade (1808), the abolition of slavery in Mexico (1829) and Great Britain (1833), and the significance of the Guerrero Decree in the Texas Revolution.

(4)        History. The student understands African American life from the Civil War through World War I. The student is expected to:

(A)       summarize the roles and experiences of African American soldiers and spies in both the North and South during the Civil War;

(B)       describe and analyze the successes and failures of Reconstruction

(C)       compare the opportunities and challenges faced by African Americans from post- Reconstruction to the early 20th century and viewpoints and actions of African Americans, including Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Freedmen’s Towns, and the Exodusters;

(D)       explain the circumstances surrounding increased violence and extremism such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the Colfax Massacre, lynchings, race riots, and the Camp Logan Mutiny (The Houston Riot of 1917);

(E)        explain the impact of the convict leasing system on African Americans, such as the Sugar Land 95;

(F)        explain how the rise of Jim Crow laws affected the life experiences of African Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries;

(G) describe the impact of the US Supreme Court decision Plessy v Ferguson (1896)

(H)       analyze the social, economic, and political actions of African Americans in response to the Jim Crow era during the early 20th century such as the Great Migration, civil rights organizations, social organizations, political organizations, and organized labor unions;

(I)         examine the experiences of African American soldiers during and after World War I; and

(J)        describe the impact of African American military service from Reconstruction through World War I, including the role of the Buffalo Soldiers.

(5)        History. The student understands change and continuity in the African American cultural identity during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement. The student is expected to:

(A)       compare the positive and negative effects of the Great Depression and New Deal on the social and economic status of African Americans in various geographic regions;

(B)       describe the impact of the US Supreme Court decisions Sweatt v Painter (1950) and Brown v Board of Education (1954);

(C)       describe the continued struggle for civil rights in America during this time in history, including the notable works of the NAACP, National Urban League, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine, and local leaders;

(D)       describe the interactions of the people of the diaspora relative to the struggle for civil rights;

(E)        describe the impact of racism during World War II;

(F)        explain the contributions of significant African American individuals and groups during World War II, including Doris “Dorie” Miller, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the 761st Tank Battalion;

(G)       analyze how the effects of World War II laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement, such as Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9981 and the contributions of A. Phillip Randolph, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Thurgood Marshall;

(H)       analyze the successes, failures, and ongoing impacts of the Civil Rights Movement, including methods such as sit-ins, boycotts, marches, speeches, music, and organizations; and

(I)         evaluate the extent to which the Civil Rights Movement transformed American politics and society.

(6)        History. The student understands the progress made and challenges faced by African Americans from the post-Civil Rights Era to contemporary times. The student is expected to:

(A)       Identify and explain the issues confronting African Americans in the continuing effort to achieve equality;

(B)       describe the major achievements of contemporary African Americans and how their achievements have shaped the American experience such as Fannie Lou Hamer, John H. Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Shirley Chisholm, Earl G. Graves, Barbara Jordan, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Barack Obama; and

(C)       analyze the progress and challenges for African American men and women socially, economically, and politically from 1970 to the present such as the evolving role of education including in the African American community.

(7)        Geography. The student understands the impact of geographic factors on major events related to African Americans over time. The student is expected to:

(A)       explain the causes and effects of forced and voluntary migration on individuals, groups, and societies throughout African American history; Identify and explain the physical and human geographic factors that contributed to the Atlantic Slave Trade, the rise of the plantation system in the South, the development of textile mills in the North, and economic interdependence between the North and South.

(C)       explain the westward movement and the Great Migration and summarize their impact on African Americans; and

(D)       analyze how environmental changes impacted African American communities such as land use, settlement patterns, and urban development.

(8)        Economics. The student understands ways in which African Americans have addressed opportunities, challenges, and strategies concerning economic well-being over time. The student is expected to:

(A)       analyze the effects of the Industrial Revolution, the role of “King Cotton” and the cotton gin on the economies of the United States and the world;

(B)       explain how sharecropping and redlining limited economic opportunities for African Americans;

(C)       explain how economic conditions and racism contributed to the Great Migration;

(D)       evaluate the economic impact of the American labor movement and unionism on African Americans from the late nineteenth century to today;

(E)        analyze how various geographic, cultural, social, political, and financial factors influenced the economic mobility of African Americans such as, skin color, wealth, and educational background;

(F)        evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches African Americans have used to solve economic issues;

(G)       trace the rise and development African American businesses and entrepreneurship from the late 19th century to today; and

(H)       examine the contributions of African American and Black American Business entrepreneurship such as Black Wall Street, black inventors, and the black experience in business and the economic contributions of individuals such as Madame C. J. Walker and Maggie L. Walker.

(9)        Government. The student understands the significant impact of political decisions on African Americans throughout history. The student is expected to:

(A) Compare and contrast how the unalienable rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights influenced the political perspectives of enslaved and free African Americans in the late 1700s and 1800s;

(B)       explain the regional perspectives toward political rights of African American men and women from the early years of the republic through 1877;

(C)       analyze the construction, interpretation, and implementation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the effects on African American men and women between 1877 and 1920;

(D)       analyze how government policies, court actions, and legislation impacted African Americans from the 1920s through the 1950s;

(E)        analyze the causes and effects of government actions and legislation addressing racial and social injustices from 1960 to the present day such as the issues of voting rights, civil rights, fair housing, education, employment, affirmative action, the War on Crime and the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, and health and nutrition; and

(F)        analyze how the changing political environment has impacted civil rights from the late 20th century to the present.

(10)     Government. The student understands the impact of political interactions on the African American struggle for human rights over time. The student is expected to:

(A)       analyze examples of conflict and cooperation between African Americans and other groups in the pursuit of individual freedoms and civil rights such as the Freedom Riders and the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike;

(B)       explain how various philosophies and ideologies influenced the African American experience for social, political, and legal equality such as fair housing, equal opportunity, affirmative action, and voting rights; and

(C) identify the contributions of African American leaders at local, state, and national levels of government.

(11) Citizenship. The student understands  the importance of multiple and changing points of view regarding citizenship of African Americans. The student is expected to:

(A)       trace how perceptions of the rights and civic responsibilities of African Americans have changed over time, including the idea of being considered property with no rights under slavery;

(B)       analyze how regional differences influenced political perspectives of African American communities;

(C)       analyze the significance and associations of identity nomenclature relevant to African Americans such as Negro and Black; and

(D)       analyze selected contemporary African American issues that have led to diverse points of view in public discourse, including rights and activism; and

(E)        identify and discuss the diverse peoples of African ancestry such as Afro-Latinos, Afro-Carribbeans, and recent African immigrants.

(12)     Culture. The student understands the development of African American culture and society and the impact of shared identities and differing experiences. The student is expected to:

(A)       analyze the impact of assimilation, stereotypes, de facto practices, and oppression on the lives of African Americans;

(B)       analyze ways in which African Americans have retained cultural identity over time while adapting to and contributing to mainstream American culture; and

(C)       analyze the various cultural practices that have shaped the individual and collective identity of African Americans over time to understand shared and differing experiences.

(13)     Culture. The student understands the cultural traditions and contributions of African Americans from the colonial era through Reconstruction. The student is expected to:

(A)       identify and describe the influence of African oral traditions, visual art, literary art, theater, music, and dance on African American culture;

(B)       describe the influence of enslavement on African American culture;

(C)       identify the contributions of early African American literature, including the works of Jupiter Hammon and Phillis Wheatley;

(D)       explain the origins and characteristics of different musical genres and traditions of African Americans; and

(E)        describe the expanding influence of African American music through the work of performers such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

(14)     Culture. The student understands the influence of artistic expression on the African American experience and American culture from Reconstruction to the present. The student is expected to:

(A)       describe the development and influence of the blues, ragtime, jazz music, and hip hop, such as the achievements of composers Scott Joplin and James Reese Europe;

(B)       describe how various African American expressions of dance forms such as tap dance, step dance, hip hop, and modern dance and the contributions of African American dancers such as the Dance Theater of Harlem, Katherine Dunham, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Alvin Ailey, and Misty Copeland have contributed to the shared identity of various groups;

(C)       explain the lasting impact of the Harlem Renaissance on American culture and society, such as the achievements of individuals such as Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Sargent Johnson, Jules Bledsoe, Paul Robeson, Augusta Savage, and James VanDerZee;

(D)       describe the reactions to and the influence of selected works by African American authors such as The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois, Native Son by Richard Wright, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and Eyes on the Prize by Henry Hampton;

(E)        describe storytelling, literary, filmmaking, and visual arts contributions related to self- identity made by African Americans such as Oscar Micheaux, John T. Biggers, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Sidney Poitier, Maya Angelou, Faith Ringgold, August Wilson, bell hooks, Spike Lee, John Singleton, and Oprah Winfrey;

(F)        describe how characteristics of African American history and culture have been reflected in various genres of art, music, film, theatre, visual arts, and dance; and

(G)       analyze the impact of popular culture on African Americans during significant eras.

(15)     Culture.  The student understands African American educational developments, achievements, and opportunities before and after the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v Board of Education (1954).  The student is expected to:

(A)       describe efforts to prevent the education of enslaved people and free African Americans, including anti-literacy laws;

(B) analyze the expansion of educational opportunities for African Americans, including the Freedman’s Bureau, Rosenwald Schools, the Second Morrill Act (1890), the establishment of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the role of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (Divine 9); and

(C) describe contemporary issues that affect education for African American students, such as the school-to-prison pipeline, opportunity gaps, overrepresentation in special education, and underrepresentation in gifted and talented opportunities.

(16)     Science, technology, and society. The student understands how African American achievements in

science and technology have contributed to economic and social development in the United States. The student is expected to:

  • identify examples of how advances made by African civilizations in areas such as astronomy, mathematics, architecture, and engineering have contributed to science and technology in the United States;
  • identify examples of how industrialization was influenced by African Americans over time; and
  • describe the contributions of significant African American individuals to science, philosophy, mathematics, and technology, such as Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver, Granville Woods, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Henrietta Lacks, Dorothy Vaughan, Mae Jemison, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

(17)     Social studies skills. The student understands how historians use historiography to interpret the past and applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired from a variety of valid sources, including technology. The student is expected to:

(A)       analyze primary and secondary sources such as maps, graphs, speeches, political cartoons, and artifacts to acquire information to answer historical questions;

(B)       analyze information by applying absolute and relative chronology through sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing and contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations, making predictions, drawing inferences, and drawing conclusions;

(C)       apply the process of historical inquiry to research, interpret, and use multiple types of sources of evidence;

(D)       evaluate the validity of a source based on corroboration with other sources and information about the author, including points of view, frames of reference, and historical context; and

(E)        identify bias and support with historical evidence a point of view on a social studies issue or event.

(18)     Social studies skills. The student communicates in written, oral, and visual forms. The student is  expected to:

(A)       create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information using effective communication skills, including proper citations and avoiding plagiarism; and

(B)       use social studies terminology correctly.

(19)     Social studies skills. The student uses geographic tools to collect, analyze, and interpret data. The student is expected to:

(A)       create a visual representation of historical information such as thematic maps, graphs, and charts; and

(B)       pose and answer questions about geographic distributions and patterns shown on maps, graphs, charts, and available databases.

(20)     Social studies skills. The student uses problem-solving and decision-making skills, working independently and  with others. The student is expected to use problem-solving and decision- making processes to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.


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