February 09, 2023

Rep. Watson Coleman Introduces Black History Matters Act

Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) introduced the Black History Matters Act. This legislation would direct the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to conduct a study on Black history education efforts in public elementary and secondary schools.

A study conducted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture  (NMAAHC) and Oberg Research found that, on average, only 8-9% of history class time is devoted to Black history, and some states neglect the subject altogether. As a result, students often lack the educational resources needed to master competencies related to history and social studies.

“In Florida, Governor DeSantis called to ban A.P. African American Studies in high schools. This was not only an attempt to erase Black history in our education system, but an attempt to promote the idea that advanced African American courses are not ‘historically accurate,’” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman.“I demand for our voices to be heard. Which is why I’m introducing legislation that will preserve Black history in our school systems”. 

The Black History Matters Act will assess the quality of Black history education through the analysis of in-class discussions, educational activities outside of the classroom, and project-based learning. Additionally, the bill would assess the quality of instructional materials used to teach Black history. It would examine the comprehensiveness of Black history lessons, and the tools used to measure students' knowledge of Black history.

New Jersey is one of a handful of states to require Black history be taught in Elementary and Secondary schools, the result of implementation of the Amistad Law passed in New Jersey in 2002. 

“We need to ensure that every student has an opportunity to quality education and that our education systems teach curriculums that reflect the rich history of our country,” the Congresswoman concluded.

The Black History Matters Act is co-sponsored by Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-2), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Rep. Blunt Rochester (DE-At Large), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9), Rep. Donald Payne (NJ-10), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Rep. Al Green (TX-9), Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7), Rep. Troy Carter (LA-2), Rep. André Carson (IN-7), and Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4).


The Black History Matters Act can be read here.