Dear Fellow Socially Conscious Teacher,

I have been thinking about you so much, what you and I are going through, and how to be there for each other. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to ban AP African American Studies in his state has made me think of the writer James Baldwin’s powerful 1963 speech “A Talk to Teachers.”

Speaking in front of a group of educators, he stated: must understand that in the attempt to correct so many generations of bad faith and cruelty, when it is operating not only in the classroom but in society, you will meet the most fantastic, the most brutal, and the most determined resistance. There is no point in pretending that this won’t happen.

In this speech, Baldwin goes on to say that educators should encourage Black students to seek liberation. His warning about resistance and his strong desire for teachers to uplift students of color couldn’t be more relevant today.

An African American History teacher in West Philadelphia, I learned of DeSantis’ ban after a long day of planning how to teach Reconstruction — my most challenging unit. (Philadelphia, for its part, requires high school students to take an African American history course to graduate.) Upon hearing the news out of Florida, I asked myself: Why would a leader deny Black students a chance to learn about the origins of the KKK, read a speech by Hiram Revels, the first Black U.S. Senator, and compare and contrast the Supreme Court decisions in the Dred Scott case and Plessy v. Ferguson.

And why is the assumption that any teaching of African American History involves some sort of forced discussion of white privilege on white students?

The current discourse prioritizes a false need to protect some students at the expense of the education of Black students (and teachers of color). I wrote about this unfortunate phenomenon for the Pulitzer Center, where I had been part of the inaugural cohort working to incorporate Nikole Hannah-Jones “1619 Project” into curriculum.

Read the full article about educating about Black history by Abigail Henry at Chalkbeat.