SECTION 1. Title 16 of the GeneralLaws entitled "EDUCATION"is herebyamended by adding thereto the following chapter:
CHAPTER 110 AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY EDUCATION IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY
16-110-1. Legislative findings.
The GeneralAssembly hereby finds and declares that:
(1) Rhode Islandholds a unique place in history with the establishment of its RoyalCharter on July 8, 1663, thatmarkedthe firsttime thata sovereign leader signed a charter guaranteeingthat individuals within a society were free to practice the religion of their choice without any interference from the government.
(2) As Rhode Island became the first American colony to declare its independence from Great Britain on May 4, 1776, it simultaneously was one of the most active slave ports in British North America within the Transatlantic Slave Trade transporting thousands of enslaved Africans to the colony, with the first documented slave ship arriving at Newport in 1696.
(3) The contributions of African Heritage Peoples from across the African Diaspora representing all walks of life and their endeavors to learn and thrive throughout history and make unforgettable marks in our state and nation as artists, scientists, educators, businesspeople, influential thinkers, members of the faith community, athletes, and political and governmental leaders, reflects the greatness of the state of Rhode Island.
(4) The United States Department of Education says "education is primarily a state and local responsibility in the United States. Itis states andcommunities, as well as public and private organizations of all kinds that establish schools and college and develop curricula."
(5) The state of Rhode Island also has previously demonstrated its concerns and interests regarding raising awareness onthe subjectof AfricanHeritage andHistory through the work of the 1696 Historical Commission as established by the generalassembly and signed into law on July 1, 2014 and was tasked with developing a comprehensive African Heritage History curriculum for Rhode Island public schools from kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12) and said commission led by our secretaryof state and comprised of scholars, civic and educational leaders developed and submitted a comprehensive reportthat included units of instruction and educational resources.
(6) With the unifying call for Black Lives Matter, racialreconciliation, and social justice during the summer of 2020, and citizen equity being reflectedacross the state, nation and world, the establishment of anAfricanHeritageHistory curriculum in Rhode Island is long overdue.Given the importance of the issue to the political affairs of the United States,as well as the responsibility of the state to educate its citizens, it is a fundamental responsibility of the state of Rhode Island to ensure thatthe critical subject of AfricanHeritage History is included as partof the curriculum in all public schools.
(7) It is the judgment of the Rhode Island generalassembly to encourage thatevery board of education in the state shallinclude instruction on the subjectof AfricanHeritage History studies where in an appropriate place in the curriculum, for all elementary and secondary students.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following words shall have the following meanings:
(1) "African Diaspora" means the term commonly used to describe the mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades, from the 1500s to the 1800s.
(2) "African Heritage" means any one people with racial, ethnic and cultural ties to the African Diaspora.
(3) "African HeritagePeople"means the people thatcanbe seenin our manystateresidents of African, white, bi-racial, Latino, Cape Verdean, Caribbean, and Native backgrounds.
(4) "Transatlantic Slave Trade" means the forcedtransportation by European slave traders of various enslaved Africanpeople, mainly tothe Americas.Currentestimates arethatabouttwelve million (12,000,000) to twelve million eight hundred thousand (12,800,000) Africans wereshipped across the Atlantic over a span of four hundred (400) years.
16-110-3. Powers and duties.
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The state shalladhere to the following procedures:
(1) The department of education shall collect and disseminate to every school district, private school, mayoral academyandcharter school, and make available currently on its website at https://www.ride.ri.gov/InstructionAssessment/CivicsSocialStudies/ResourcesonAfricanAmerica nHistory.aspx
(2) The curriculum materials and such other materials as may assist local and regional schoolcommittees, andgoverning bodies of anyprivate school, mayoralacademyor charterschool, in developing instructional programs pursuant to this section materials on African Heritage and History.
(3) Every school district shall include in its curriculum a unit of instruction on African Heritage and History utilizing, but not being limited to, the materials collected and disseminated by the departmentof education, commencing with the 2022-2023 schoolyear. Nothing herein shall require school districts to require African Heritage History instruction in every year, but that African Heritage education and instruction shall be utilized during appropriate times in the elementary and secondary school curricula, as determined by the local authority. All students should have received instruction on African Heritage and History materials by the time they have graduated from high school.
SECTION 2. This act shalltake effect upon passage.
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BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
A N A C T
RELATING TO EDUCATION – AFRICAN HERITAGE HISTORY EDUCATION
This act would require implementation of education courses in African American history in elementary and secondary schools in Rhode Island commencing in the 2022-2023 school year.
This act will take effect upon passage. ======== LC002232 ========
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