Medgar Evers College Professor Opines on College Board’s AP African American Studies Changes
Wallace Ford II feels tweaks are more about appeasing conservative politicians’ views
Black History Month 2023 got off to an inauspicious start when the College Board, an American nonprofit organization of higher education institutions, seemingly caved to pressure from conservatives to alter the curriculum of its new AP African American Studies program. With Florida Governor Ron DeSantis leading the charge by threatening to ban its use in his state unless certain changes were made, many educators feel that College Board CEO David Coleman blinked in issuing these changes despite the latter stating, “We at the College Board don’t really look to the statements of politicians, but we do look to the record of history.” Professor Wallace Ford II, a member of the faculty of the Medgar Evers College Department of Public Administration in the School of Business who was recently interviewed by CBS News correspondent Christine Sloan, was clear that he felt that these changes were about appeasing conservatives.
“This is what happens when you live in a land of sound bites,” Ford II said. “What has happened to the College Board is that some of the items that Ron DeSantis is doing his tantrum dance on were items that were optional. These are things that students might want to look into whether its black feminism, reparations, resistance and so on. The basic story of Black history as I understand it is still going to remain. But he has his talking points now as he looks to run for president. And he wants to be on the side of racism and quite frankly—of white supremacy. You’ve got to hand it to him—he’s not being shy about it.”
For the Harvard Law School alum, one of the most disingenuous points being made by conservatives in this argument is using critical race theory as an ideological bogeyman.
“First of all, critical race theory is taught in college,” he explained. “It’s not taught in high school and it’s not taught in junior high school. One of my former professors at Harvard Law School, Derrick Bell, coined that term. The notion was to look at how various aspects of American civilization have contributed to what we see in terms of racism, white supremacy and what have you. It was not meant to be a critique of American saying that America is a bad place. For those people that might be listening, if you have children, you have to tell the child when somebody didn’t do it right. They have to do it a better way. Some people don’t want to know the truth, but the truth doesn’t go away. That’s what I think is the problem for DeSantis.”
Ford II added that while DeSantis and his ilk are actually doing a disservice to their constituents’ children by obfuscating the truth about Black History and its role in the shaping of this country—good, bad, and otherwise.
“The truth is what the truth is and it will not be buried by Ron DeSantis and anybody else that’s out there and thinks that critical race theory is this mumbo jumbo language that will somehow skew the minds of white children [who might feel that] just because their ancestors or predecessors did something terrible that somehow they’re terrible,” he said. “Nobody has ever suggested that and nobody has ever suggested that somehow racism is inherited. In fact, it’s just the opposite—it has to be learned. The way you get away from learning racism is with the truth. The last thing I’ll say on this is that these young people in Florida are still going to have to go to college. And they’re going to have to go to college all over the country and it’s not going to work like that. They’re not going to be able to say there was no slavery and black resistance is not a real thing. No, they’re going to have to face the real world someday. They can’t build a wall around Florida.”