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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-12
February 25, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Convenes Discussion with Educators, Students on African American Studies During Ethnic Studies Virtual Classroom Session

SACRAMENTO—Building on the success of last summer’s Ethnic Studies Webinar Series, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond yesterday launched the second part of the series with “Arts, Activism, and Americana: Understanding African American Studies.” The event yesterday, hosted by Dr. Daniel Lee, Deputy Superintendent of Equity at the California Department of Education (CDE), included a mini lesson from Dr. Natalie Graham, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) and featured past and present CSUF students, who shared their journey to getting degrees in African American Studies and how the discipline has served them.

An archived broadcast of the webinar can be found on the CDE Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab..

As the State Board of Education prepares to review a revised Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum in a public meeting later next month, these virtual classroom sessions are opportunities for students, educators, and families to learn more about four disciplines of ethnic studies: African American Studies, Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies, Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x Studies, and Native American Studies.

“As our nation experiences an urgent movement for racial justice, students and educators have told us that they want further lessons to highlight the struggles, histories, and contributions from people of color in our state and national history,” Thurmond said. “We’re proud to present these virtual classes, and be in a position to create an ethnic studies framework. Through learning about contributions of people of color, as well as the way in which many different groups across racial and economic lines have come together to build a better country, we can more easily envision our shared path forward—one that better serves all of us.”

Ethnic studies courses offer a space for students to explore complex issues of race, identity, and how socio-cultural contexts shape lives, and the CDE’s ethnic studies “virtual classrooms” provide a space for that conversation.

Dr. Graham, Director of CSU Fullerton’s Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation and Chair of the CSUF Department of African American Studies, adapted her mini-lesson from her African American Music Appreciation course that demonstrates the way that college students use what they already know about music history and culture as a stepping-stone into understanding the complexities of African American history. CSUF student Vyvyana Woolridge discussed her experiences in ethnic studies and how it has helped to better her college experience. And CSUF alumna Keya Vance explained how positive relationships with her professors, new topics introduced to her, and opportunities that have come post-graduation, were all benefits of choosing African American Studies as a major.

More details about future Ethnic Studies Webinar Series sessions will be posted on CDE’s social media channels.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, February 25, 2021
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