Ribault High celebrates first African-American history course

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of students gathered Thursday to celebrate Black History Month and a new program that's bringing history to life at Ribault High School. 

Duval County Public Schools partnered with the Commissioner of Education's African-American History Task Force and EverFi, a technology company, to launch a digital African-American history course.

Ribault High juniors are celebrating the completion of the new program fostering African-American history. But some people are worried that African-American history is not being taught enough in schools.

"Standing your ground is a big lesson that we've learned,” John Douglas, a junior at Ribault High said. “As you know, Rosa Parks sat on the front of the bus, but was arrested for doing so and it made a big statement back then."

Norma Solomon White, the keynote speaker for Thursday’s event, was born and raised in Jacksonville. White is the 25th international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority and said in the 1950s Ribault High opened up as an all-white institution, but things have changed.

"It's probably all black, if not, there's probably one or two white students here now," White said. "We need to know where we've come from. We need to recognize where we are now and that helps us plan for the future because we don't want students in the future to go through things I went through."

White thinks it's important for the newer generation to get a grasp on black history in a way that will make the information stick.

"Instead of using textbooks, this course is done primarily online. It was created by EverFi and it's been introduced to four different schools in Duval County - this is the first year. They named the course 306, because of its reoccurring theme throughout African American history."

The ‘306’ is symbolic to the Harlem artist collective group, as well as the room number in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed when he was assassinated at the Memphis Lorraine Motel.

The program is broken up into modules and students can log in and learn with videos, simulations and assessments.

"Through the program, I did it on my own time and it was better for me to understand what was going on through history," said Faith Allen, a junior at Ribault High.

During Thursday's celebration, the students showed what they learned with a trivia game.

"There should be more African-American studies because what I've learned about African- American history was not in school. I took these studies home,” Douglas said. “We've done a lot that I had no idea about and we've evolved a lot through education and tools and dealing with our community."

Program developers hope this course will become a part of the high school curriculum across the state.