Governor of New Jersey Supports Forward Approach to Black History Instruction

(Photo by Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

The world stage is rife with drama, with millions of observers captivated by the political tug-of-war over implementing Black History Courses in schools nationwide. Over the past few months, Florida Governor Desantis has taken center stage for his stance, a position of staunch opposition to the instruction of AP Black History in Florida classrooms. And as a result, he’s incurred the wrath of several high-power figures. 

Despite the position of Governor Desantis, it is necessary to note that not everyone stands in the pathway of progression. While he moves to raise strong bulwarks, Governor Bill Murphy aims to tear down the barriers. Governor Bill Murphy of New Jersey has clarified that he stands to push forward with initiatives to put more AP black history classes in New Jersey Schools. 

Governor Bill Murphy’s Announcement

On Tuesday, February 14, Governor Murphy publicly announced his plan to ensure that AP Black History is taught in more New Jersey High schools. In a press conference, Murphy stated, “New Jersey will proudly teach our kids that Black History is American History,” a move that starkly counters those of Governor Desantis. 

What does Murphy’s Push Look Like?

Currently, few schools in New Jersey offer a course in Black History. According to NBC News, only one high school in the state provides such a course currently. So, undoubtedly, a measure of expansion into even one other school signifies progress. According to NBC News, it has been confirmed that at least six high schools in New Jersey plan to offer the course in the 2023-2024 school year. In fact, according to Murphy, the Superintendent of those schools, Roger Leon, is fully on board with the move. Leon echoed his support of the initiative with this response,

“The study of African American History, as a discrete field, is important to gaining a deeper, fuller understanding of United States History,”

a statement that underlines the importance of such an offering. Of course, six does not seem like a great deal of expansion. And according to NBC News, Murphy aims for expansion into even more schools, with a projected figure of at least 26. However, even given this number, some may balk. Compared to the number of schools in New Jersey, even the projected expansion into 26 high schools seems paltry, especially considering, as U.S. News notes, there are 445 high schools across New Jersey.

A Giant Step in Comparison

When looking at New Jersey’s rate of adoption given the entire nation, it brings to the surface a sobering truth. There is so much more left to do. Murphy’s plans are encouraging. Those steps forward are huge when considering New Jersey as opposed to what is happening around the nation. NBC News notes that such courses are being taught in only 60 schools nationwide. One must consider that, according to Think Impact, there are 23,900 secondary schools within the United States, making the number of adoptions even more startling. It only underlines how far away the nation is from reasonable progression. To think that in 2023 there is such a strong divide on inclusion in education is scary.

But the great philosopher Lao TZU said, “The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.” And Murphy is taking that step. What that means for the collective is all that is necessary for great leaps forward is that, more like Murphy, stand up and, with boldness, make it their mission to take that step.

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