More than MLK: Duval students create new Black history curriculum, include lessons on Kaepernick, Hurricane Katrina

A group of Duval County students created a new Black history curriculum for middle school classrooms.

Jacksonville racial equity and justice non-profit 904WARD released the curriculum on Thursday.

Teachers everywhere can use the lesson plans and activity sheets while still complying with state standards, 904WARD said.

Back in 2022, a group of Duval County students went to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

One of the students recommended coming up with lessons for middle schoolers because that’s the age they felt they should’ve been exposed to the things at the memorial.

Zuri Randolph, 17, was on the trip.

Randolph said it would have been good to know more about Black history in middle school.

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So she and other students sat down and thought about what else they wanted to learn about Black history and what they could share with future generations.

Two years later, with the help of 904WARD, they’ve released a “Black History Curriculum.”

It starts in the 1980s with texts on the Miami Riots and the fastest woman to ever live, Florence Griffith Joyner, known to many as “Flo-Jo.”

It also looks back at the ‘90s and includes lessons on the Watts Truce of South Central and the Los Angeles Rebellion of South Central, which many people refer to as the Los Angeles Riots.

“It really wasn’t a riot, it was to say, ‘Hey, y’all can’t keep doing what you’re doing to us and expecting us not to react,’” Randolph said.

Randolph also contributed to writings on Colin Kaepernick.

In each story, there’s a list of questions.

“Another one of the questions was, what would you do? If you were in Kaepernick’s position when it came to kneeling and protest? And explain why. So asking them to explain why it gets them thinking, helping with that critical thinking skill,” Randolph said. “I believe that these questions are a perfect guide to helping them teach themselves how to think.”

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There are also lessons on The CROWN Act, Hurricane Katrina and Robert Lee Stinson.

In 2022, Florida’s Individual Freedom Act, known as the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, restricted race-related curriculum in schools, including topics with an unconscious bias and privilege.

The state’s education board changed the standards on African-American history in 2023 requiring students to be taught “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

904WARD Director of Equity ReGina Newkirk Rucci said the group brought in lawyers and curriculum specialists to make sure the curriculum followed the law.

“To me, this is what students said they wanted to know. And I think that is the response. So there are a lot of legislators and people who are making decisions for what they think students should have access to. But I don’t hear what students are saying in that conversation. This curriculum is a direct response from students of what they want to learn,” Newkirk Rucci said.

Duval County teachers said it’s something they’ve been hearing from their students for a while, wanting to be represented in the text they study.

“When we look into history, we often see where a Black character or Black person has been regulated to either slavery or Martin Luther King, Jr. And we kind of end those stories there. The value of knowing more is to know that we exist beyond that,” said teacher Dr. Carissa McCray.

They have students like Randolph to thank.

“It was great that the teachers allowed us to be able to have the autonomy, to do these things,” Randolph said.

These lesson plans aren’t just for teachers. Parents can purchase their own set for their child on the website Teachers Pay Teachers.

You can find a link to purchase it on

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