The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk

The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk

The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk


The New AP African-American Studies

College Board course will debut next year at SDHS

There is a new Advanced Placement class that is taking place in the spring of 2025 for seniors.

It goes through the history of African Americans from their time in Africa, in the middle passage, to emancipation, to racism, as well as present times. So, this time period of this course is from the 1500s to the present. The topics that are discussed in this class are fragile to all but shine light on people that deserved to be recognized through the struggles they have and their ancestors have gone through.

This course will be taught by Ms. Mary Hathaway, who also teaches AP World History and regular World History from 2023-24. She has also taught Psychology in prior years.

This specific AP classs was speculated and put out there by The College Board about 2017, but wasn’t an actual class until 2022. It was piloted in 2022-23 for only 60 high schools across the United States.

For this school year, it was piloted to about 700 high schools in the United States that includes Pocomoke High School. Next year, it will be open to all United States high schools including here at Decatur.

Hathaway said she has wanted to teach this class because it allows her to have a challenge, see people benefit from what is being taught, and new content that will allow people to understand people like us.

AP African American Studies is different from other APs that have been taken at this school. People who have taken history APs or are currently enrolled in a history AP, there are LEQs and DBQs that are very time consuming added to the many multiple-choice questions during the test.

“Instead of having just an exam,” Hathway said, “you have a research project that allows students to pick a topic in AP African American Studies to get a deeper understanding of the topic they have selected. It is also due on the same day as the exam.”

This course is also only one semester with no prerequisite class that students need to take.

Prior to her teaching, Hathaway attended Salisbury University, where she did a study abroad in Ghana. She looked at the slave trades and how it impacted Africa. She also learned that Africa views life a lot differently than Americans do. In Africa, they believe in the system that they already have established and don’t want the help due to being colonized by many different European countries.

Hathaway said her experience there in Ghana allowed her to “open her eyes seeing how the people are so in love with their culture.”

These people were not upset, they did day-to-day life that made them happy, and happy to not be under control of a mother country abusing them for their natural resources they had.

Hathaway also expressed how people in the United States wouldn’t understand how they could live like they do, and she especially didn’t when she first got there. As time goes on and you are immersed into the culture you see how they act and understand through history how they do. At the same time, you can only think that history is always against them and cruel.

Hathaway said she would like to have students in her classroom that want to learn about people that are considered less than in the world.

She believes that this history needs to be shown because, “African American history is United States history. It is important for all races, not just African Americans to be more inclusive and understanding of others. We shouldn’t be celebrating a group of people for 28 to 29 days. We should be celebrating them every day.”

She doesn’t sugarcoat history. The history that will be expressed in this class is sensitive, but history shouldn’t be blocked out just because the United States is viewed poorly.

Florida for example, is preventing this AP from existing in their classrooms, as well as the AP World History course because the United States’ slave trade has been viewed poorly.

“When any content is limited, it is devastating to everyone,” Hathaway said. “It allows people to not be able to express their opinions of history. Racism is taught and it is important to strive to do better.”

Hathaway in this course will guide students to see different perspectives and due to what is being presented the students will be able to make their own ideas about history.

She will also teach students to learn analytical thinking that will last them a lifetime. These skills include how to find evidence and how to create, reading different texts and looking at what they are trying to express, as well as writing at a higher level than before. She also wants people to “love each other because there is too much hate in this world,” she said.

The new AP African American Studies allows all students to see United States History in action. Even though the curriculum is new it will provide a glimpse into African history that people in the United States don’t spend much time on. You get to see a new culture and how they adapted from Africa to America. These people that have been considered less than in society are being looked at to prove their suffrage matters.

This class will not only teach you about the course but life skills that will be needed when you get to college. With Ms. Hathaway as the teacher, future students will be able to come up with their own viewpoint on history on what she provides. She will allow students to voice their concerns and ideas because that is what history is all about.

Even though it prioritizes seniors, future juniors, sophomores, and freshmen, get ready because this class will be opened up to you in later years, so get ready.

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