Gov. Northam announces launch of new African American history course

Gov. Northam announces launch of new African American history course
In this April 8, 2020 file photo, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gestures during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. (Source: AP Photo/Steve Helber/AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR/WWBT) - Chesterfield and Henrico schools are part of more than a dozen school divisions in the commonwealth that are adding a new high school-level elective course on African American history.

“Black history is American history, but for too long, the story we have told was insufficient and inadequate,” said Governor Northam in a press release Thursday, August 27. “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.”

Northam’s office says the full-credit course will survey African American history from precolonial Africa through today.

The governor directed the Virginia Department of Education to collaborate with Virtual Virginia, WHRO Public Media, and committees of history teachers, historians, and history professors last year to develop the new history course. Members of Northam’s Commission on African-American History Education in the Commonwealth provided comments and guidance during the development process.

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

The course will allow students to explore primary and secondary sources documenting the African American experience. There will also be a capstone project at the end of the class that will require students to do research on a question or problem they choose and to show 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.”

Teachers presenting the course will get professional development and support throughout the year.

For more information, click here.

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