by Jacob U’Mofe Gordon, Ph.D.
In 1994 the State of Florida Legislature passed Statute 1003.42 which mandated the teaching of African American History in all public schools in Florida. The statute was in response to the lack of an inclusive curriculum which recognized the presence and contributions of African Americans to the state’s history and development. This comprehensive law required that courses be taught in African American history, Women’s history, Hispanic history, and the Holocaust.
A state-wide African American History Task Force was established and funded by the Florida Commissioner of Education to support and promote the implementation of the statute in all Public Schools. It is important to note that prior to 1994 concerned Gainesville community leaders were already engaged with the Board of Education of Alachua County Public Schools in including the African American Experience in the curricula.
Several years ago, a group of concerned citizens organized the Black History Task Force. Among its leaders were: Ms. Carol Thomas, Mr. Kali Blount, Dr. Patricia Hilliard-Nunn, Ms. Faye Williams, and Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons. These efforts led to the establishment of the Alachua County African American History Task Force.
This Task Force has forged productive collaborative relationships with the administration and teachers in Alachua County Public Schools to comply with the State Law. A course in African History began at Eastside High School in the Fall of 2017 with 19 students.
By the following year, the student demand was great enough to offer additional sections in African and African American History both semesters. In Fall of 2019, all seven high schools in Alachua County Public Schools offered a course in these subjects. In addition, “infusion” of such information in all courses from kindergarten through 12th grade has begun. ACPS is applying to the State Task Force for Exemplary Status which would confirm its compliance with the law. As Sam Cooke sang, “It’s been a long time coming, but a change is gonna come.”
The Alachua County AA Task Force has now established a Historical Society to build upon the past accomplishments in the schools and to expand its efforts to serve the broader community. The purpose of the Alachua County African and African American Historical Society, Inc. is “to promote the study, teaching, research, and preservation of African & African American History and Diaspora Studies in Alachua County.” It is registered as a Non-Profit Corporation in Florida. The Society will work with other Cultural and Historical Institutions to document and disseminate the considerable History of the Black Experience in Alachua County.
Membership in the Society is open to all. We want your input and ideas.
For additional information, contact: Dr. Jacob U’Mofe Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org