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Little Rock schools will allow African American class to count for graduation, in break from Arkansas state officials

By Jamiel Lynch, CNN

(CNN) — In a sharp break from Arkansas education officials, the Little Rock School District said in a news release it will offer AP African American Studies for credit.

Earlier this month, state education officials said students enrolled in the controversial Advanced Placement course would not receive credits toward graduation.

“As part of our commitment to providing a rich and comprehensive learning experience, we will continue with our plans to offer the AP course,” the district’s release said Wednesday. “We will also continue to work closely with the College Board regarding content and curriculum.”

CNN has reached out to the state board of education and Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders for comment. Sanders signed an executive order in January prohibiting “indoctrination and critical race theory in schools.”

The Little Rock School district includes Central High School, the scene of a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights era. In 1957, nine Black students enrolled to test the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that declared segregated public schools unconstitutional. On their first day of school, the students were met with an angry White mob that rejected integrated schools and the National Guard blocking the entrance.

“We are fortunate to have one of the foremost subject matter experts leading the instruction at Central High School who has expressed that her students are enthusiastic about the opportunity to take the course,” the district said. “AP African American Studies will allow students to explore the complexities, contributions, and narratives that have shaped the African American experience throughout history, including Central High School’s integral connection.”

Nearly 100 students at Central had enrolled in the course this year, school board member and attorney Ali Noland told CNN.

Calling the course the “opposite of indoctrination,” Noland said it taught an essential and important part of American history.

In other states, as well, Republican leaders have sought to limit what can be included in Black history education.

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CNN’s Nicquel Terry Ellis contributed to this report.

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