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History and Rationale

In 1984, South Carolina state lawmakers recognized the need for a broader, more inclusive portrayal of the nation’s history that would recognize the experiences, culture and contributions of African Americans. They carried into law, under the Education Improvement Act of 1984, S.C. Code Ann. ยง 59-29-55, that stipulated that by the 1989-1990 school year, each public school of the State must instruct students in the history of the black people [African-Americans] as a regular part of its history and social studies courses. They also require under this law that the State Board of Education shall establish regulations for the adoption of history and social studies textbooks, which incorporate black [African-American] history and shall, through the State Department of Education, assist the school districts in developing and locating suitable printed materials and other aids for instruction in black [African-American] history.


In an effort to establish the schools status with regard to carrying out this legislation, the Education Oversight Committee sanctioned a study from the Avery Research Institute of the College of Charleston. From this report, it was determined that while many schools observed, on some level, African American history, the practice of teaching an African American curriculum was random and yielded little measurable results. The barriers most commonly referenced in the report revealed a lack of knowledge of the content and a lack of awareness of the law. The report made the following recommendations to the EOC pertaining to the adherence of the African American legislation:

  • Develop a clearing house for information on resources available to teachers who need to supplement their curricula with the most current information in African American history.
  • Provide more opportunities for training for teachers.
  • Recognize the innovations that some principals and teachers are using by holding an annual conference on the teaching of the African American experience in the state.
  • Develop a statewide web site that lists resources prepared and recommended by the State Department of Education.
  • Ensure that the state evaluation standards for schools recognize their compliance with the EIA provision for the teaching of the African American experience.
  • Develop a standard of measurement for the state’s African American history program that accurately and effectively measures actual student knowledge about the African American experience. 

The EOC concluded that the acknowledgement of African American history become an “imbedded” component of the social studies and history curriculum. Since the declaration of the EOC, the presence of the experiences, culture, and history African Americans has been relegated to last place in the curriculum often suffering exposure with the risk of competing with “American” history, which is more accountable to state standards and assessment. 

Recognizing the paucity of evidence of African American contributions in the state’s current curriculum, a group of 12 educators from higher education, K-12, and other educational foundations gathered to establish the South Carolina Council for African American Studies (SCCAAS) in January 2006. The group determined as its mission to promote higher standards in all subject core area curricula and instruction for the schools of South Carolina. With “Guiding Excellence in Everyone’s Education” as its motto, SCCAAS proposes that by galvanizing the efforts of educators at every level and including community stakeholders, many of the concerns about closing achievement gaps, decreasing under-representation in higher education, and an ever growing need for Multicultural awareness in a global society can be achieved. 

In SCCAAS, we believe that there are six criteria that will have a significant impact to ensure continuous and recognizable achievement of the goals of the African American history legislation:

  • School Board approval of the African American initiative
  • On-going and structured professional development
  • An African American curriculum that crosses all disciplines
  • Fair and balanced inclusion of African American curriculum in textbooks and assessments
  • Higher education and K-12 collaboration
  • Community partnerships to build awareness and support 

For the following years the organization has held a conference, which emphasizes some aspect of African American studies and culture.

  • 2006, the Inaugural Conference “Promising Practices”
  • 2008, The 1st Annual SCCAAS Conference, SC Educators Leading and Shaping: Identities, Cultures and Futures”
  • 2009, The 2nd Annual SCCAAS Conference, “African American Studies: Remembering the Past, Relevance for the Present, Sustaining the Future”
  • 2010, The 3rd Annual SCCAAS Conference, “African American Studies in the Digital Age,” Dr. Rick Kittles, African Ancestry, Inc.
  • 2011, The 4th Annual SCCAAS conference “African American Studies in the Digital Age II”; Dr. Emory Campbell, Culturalist and Dr. Juan Gilbert, Computer Scientist, Associate Professor at Clemson University
  • 2012, The 5th Annual SCCAAS Conference
  • 2013, The 6th Annual SCCAAS Conference
  • 2014, The 7th Annual SCCAAS Conference,“African American Studies: Utilizing The Arts To Teach Common Core.”
  • 2019, SCCAAS Conference,“African American Studies in the Classroom: An Interdisciplinary Approach.”
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