The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board will vote tonight on a mandatory African American history course for the local school system.

Groups on social media are already spreading the word about the meeting, and some advocates of an African American history course said they plan to be there.

In May, supporters showed up at the board’s Curriculum Committee meeting, saying school officials had promised research on the possibility of a class for three years.

Groups that voiced their concerns included Hate Out of Winston and the Local Organizing Committee.

Earlier this year, Hate Out of Winston provided the committee with research that was predominately done by its members. The research stated that a class is needed to address such issues in the local schools as equity, closing the achievement gap, engaging students and respecting diversity.

At that time, Barbara Burke, the chairwoman of the Curriculum Committee and co-chairwoman of the school board, said the committee would consider a required African American course as part of the school system’s new high school course offerings.

On Oct. 15, the committee voted in favor of a mandatory African American history course and sent its recommendation to the full school board for a vote.

“We never thought that this moment would come,” said Miranda Jones, a member of both Hate Out of Winston and Local Organizing Committee.

Jones said it is clear to group members that this is a result of a push by Burke.

“We have not had someone on the school board be so vocal in their support,” Jones said.

She said it is the group’s hope that WS/FCS will set a precedent by implementing a mandatory African American history course.

“We are clear that we are on the side of right for all children,” Jones said. “We made history having an all-female school board. This is their opportunity in a nonpartisan way to make history.”

Jones said that group members respect WS/FCS Superintendent Angela P. Hairston’s recent recommendations, which include African American studies, but she said that “those recommendations are just not what we want.”

She said they will present to the board recommendations that they think are “feasible, realistic and that will not burden any of the students in the district.”

During its meeting, the school board is also expected to discuss the proposed infusion program that includes African American studies that Hairston recommended during the Oct. 15 Curriculum Committee meeting.

Hairston’s proposals included four courses as electives for students in every high school — African American Studies, Latin American Studies, American Indian Studies and Ethnic Literature. She also proposed that each course be worth one full credit and have standard and honors course options.

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fdaniel@wsjournal.com

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