A New Jersey school district voted this week to become the first in the state to require an African-American history course for graduation.

The Cherry Hill school board voted 8-0 — with one abstention — to mandate the class for their roughly 11,000 students, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Momentum for the move accelerated after the police killing of George Floyd and was led by students, according to the report.

“We felt it was really essential that it was mandatory,” said Joy Thomas, 17, a senior at Cherry Hill High School East. “We think everyone should be more culturally aware and aware as a nation.”

The district’s curriculum director, Farrah Mahan, argued that the policy change would help to combat implicit bias on the part of students and teachers.

“Think about the teachable moments that would come during this course,” Mahan told the outlet. “There is no history without Black history.”

Cherry Hill schools are 57 percent white, 18 percent Asian, 13 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent African-American.

Cherry Hill East High School
“We felt it was really essential that it was mandatory,” said Joy Thomas, 17, a senior at Cherry Hill High School East.
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The district will hire two teachers to help implement the new requirement and will also vet the current curriculum for cultural sensitivity, according to the report.

District educators will also be given special training on teaching African-American history, the outlet said.



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