AHA Advocacy

In a wide range of situations, whether involving the rights and careers of individual historians, historical practice in diverse venues, or the role of history in public culture, the American Historical Association has the responsibility to take public stands. See below for recent AHA actions.

To learn more about how the AHA determines whether to take a public stand, please see Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance (June 2017) and Policies and Procedures for Considering Amicus Brief Requests (January 2020).

AHA Executive Director Jim Grossman's The Megaphone at 400 A Street SE shares the process by which the AHA issues letters and statements and signs onto amicus curiae briefs.

For statements and letters from the 1990s–2021, please visit the AHA's News and Advocacy Archives.

In many states, legislators have introduced "divisive concepts" bills that seek to limit history education in ways that would make it virtually impossible for students to understand slavery and racism in American historical development. The AHA is leading or involved with several initiatives to combat these bills and provides resources and support for educators advocating for teaching history. For more information and for recent letters sent by the AHA to state legislatures, please visit our Teaching History with Integrity site and History Education Advocacy archive.


  • Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance (June 2017)

    The Council of the American Historical Association issues a statement on when it has the right to take public stands in defense, most of which has to do with the rights and careers of individuals, considered as historians. (Created 2007; Updated 2017)

  • Policies and Procedures for Considering Amicus Brief Requests (January 2020)

    The AHA may consider requests for endorsing amicus briefs that coincide with the AHA's Guiding Principles for Taking a Public Stance. Such requests may be submitted by members of the Association, litigants, or other scholarly associations.

  • AHA Sends Letter to South Carolina State University Opposing Plan to Cut Majors (February 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to leaders at South Carolina State University expressing grave concern about a plan to cut majors in history, African American studies, and social studies teaching at the university. “Cutting a core liberal arts degree like African American studies or history is short-sighted. Civic leaders from all corners of the political landscape have lamented the lack of historical knowledge of American citizens,” the AHA wrote. “Cutting social studies education is an especially irresponsible move at a moment when teachers are being prohibited from teaching the truth about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, or the continuing centrality of racism in American public culture.”

  • Coalition of Organizations Submit Letter Opposing Florida SB 1372 (February 2024)

    The AHA, as part of a nonpartisan coalition of organizations, has signed on to a letter opposing Florida SB 1372, which would threaten the integrity of K–12 history education in the state. This statement expresses “serious concerns that the bill is not constitutionally viable, is overly vague, and is an example of viewpoint discrimination that is contrary to free speech and expression. . . . This bill could create a new generation of history teachers who are unsure how to teach material about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, or women’s suffrage.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Florida Legislature Opposing Harmful K–12 Teacher Training Bill (February 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to Florida legislators opposing HB 1291/SB 1372, a “heavy-handed and inappropriate intervention in college curricula, classroom instruction, and professional learning.” The proposed legislation, the AHA writes, “would require educators teach a history that is incomplete, tendentious, and politically driven rather than based on evidence and consistent with professional standards. . . . SB 1372 establishes a mechanism for censoring classroom teaching and learning, and hence stands in stark opposition to academic freedom and true intellectual diversity.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Iowa House of Representatives Opposing Bill on K-12 Social Studies Curriculum

    The AHA has sent a letter to the members of the Iowa House of Representatives opposing HF 2544, a bill that “directly encroaches on the authority and expertise of the members of the Iowa State Board of Education, sidestepping statutory minimum requirements for the educational program and bypassing the state’s mandated process for developing social studies standards.” The proposed legislation, the AHA wrote, “is a Frankenstein’s monster constructed out of disembodied portions of five out-of-state model bills” that “leaves no room for input from teachers, administrators, historians, or parents.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Indiana Legislature Opposing “Intellectual Diversity” Tenure Bill (February 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to members of the Indiana House Education Committee opposing Senate Bill 202, which would “create a policy for granting tenure and terminating the appointments of tenured faculty based on how well that faculty member has fostered ‘intellectual diversity’ within the classroom.” The bill, the AHA wrote, “inserts the will and judgment of politically appointed boards of trustees into the fundamental work of university faculty” and “would create conditions of uncertainty for faculty, presenting situations where their jobs are on the line for the infraction of not having enough arbitrarily decided ‘variety’ in their ‘political or ideological frameworks’ . . . mak[ing] it easier for public interest groups and politicians—of either party—to weed out faculty with whom they disagree.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Nebraska Legislature Opposing Bill to Eliminate Tenure (February 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the Nebraska state legislature opposing LB 1064, a proposed bill that would eliminate tenure in state universities and colleges. “If passed [LB 1064] will severely diminish the ability of the state's public universities to recruit and retain the quality of faculty required for first-rate teaching and research,” the AHA wrote. “Any public university in the state would immediately become an employer of last choice among scholars who desire an environment amenable to high-quality teaching and research.“

  • AHA Sends Letter to Manhattan College Opposing Termination of History Faculty Members (January 2024)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the president, acting provost, and chair of the board of trustees at Manhattan College expressing “grave concern about the termination of two members of the history faculty.” “The history department will be cut in half from six to three through these and other faculty eliminations,” the AHA wrote. “As a Lasallian institution with a strong tradition of liberal arts education, Manhattan College has a particularly impressive record of high-quality history education provided by an accomplished faculty committed to undergraduate education. The AHA urges the administration to consider how its actions are undermining this commitment to the liberal arts and the training of teachers, and the importance of the liberal arts to the lifelong learning essential to occupational and professional success.”

  • Resolution Passed at the 137th Business Meeting (January 2024)

    At the 137th Business Meeting of the AHA (held on January 6, 2024), the AHA membership approved the resolution "In Defense of the Right to Learn." The resolution was accepted by the Council on January 24, 2024.

  • AHA Submits Testimony Opposing Ohio SB 83 (November 2023)

    The American Historical Association has submitted a letter to the Ohio House Higher Education Committee expressing strong objection to Ohio Senate Bill 83 in its current substitute version (I_135_0330-11).

  • AHA Signs On to Letter Opposing Elimination of Programs at SUNY Potsdam (October 2023)

    The AHA has signed on to a letter from the American Philosophical Association and other scholarly societies urging leadership at State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam “to reconsider SUNY Potsdam’s recently announced Financial Sustainability Plan, which proposes the elimination of 14 programs, including several core liberal arts programs.” “As part of the public university system of New York, SUNY Potsdam has obligations beyond providing basic career preparation. It is responsible for helping to educate a thoughtful, engaged, and critical citizenry who can tackle the challenges facing society today and in the future,” the statement urges. “[E]liminating students’ opportunities for deep study in liberal arts disciplines at a regional public institution such as SUNY Potsdam sends a dangerous message—that such study is a luxury, available only to those privileged enough to attend more ‘elite’ universities.”

  • AHA Signs On to ACLS Statement Opposing Major Cuts to West Virginia University Programs (September 2023)

    The AHA has signed on to a statement from the American Council of Learned Societies opposing proposed major cuts to West Virginia University (WVU) undergraduate and graduate programs across multiple departments. “By proposing [these] cuts . . . the university is denying its students and the people of West Virginia access to the wide range of knowledge necessary to fulfill that mission,” the ACLS wrote. “The path WVU is treading is unprecedented for a public flagship and dangerous for American higher education and society.”

  • AHA Signs On to CIE Letter Urging HEA-Title VI Funding for FY 2024 (September 2023)

    The AHA has signed on to a letter from the Coalition for International Education to leaders in the US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations expressing “concern over reported deep reductions to the US Department of Education’s International Education and Foreign Language Studies account in the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill approved by the Subcommittee before the recess.” The letter urges the committee to fund HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs to at least the same amount that that was provided in FY 2023. “The economic well-being and national security of the United States depend substantially on its citizens’ ability to communicate and compete by knowing the languages and cultures of other countries,” the CIE writes. “[T]his funding is crucial for our nation’s prosperity and safety.”

  • AHA Statement on Florida’s African American History Standards (August 2023)

    The AHA has released a statement on the Florida Department of Education’s new African American history standards, based on executive director Jim Grossman’s op-ed that was recently published in the Miami Herald. “What is the purpose of denying young people as comprehensive a history as possible?” the statement reads. “[T]he remedy for discomfort is not to marginalize the lasting effects of legal, economic, social, and cultural institutions that condoned the buying and selling of other humans for nearly 250 years. Our work as historians is chock-full of stories that can inspire students and readers without obscuring essential concepts. All facts and narratives require context; in the United States, slavery and racism are contexts that cannot be dismissed as ‘mere deviations.’”

  • AHA Sends Letter to New College of Florida Expressing Concern over History Professor’s Nonrenewal (July 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to Richard Corcoran, president of New College of Florida, expressing “deep concern about New College’s decision not to renew the contract of Erik Wallenberg, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of History.” “Our apprehension stems from evidence that Wallenberg’s contract was not renewed because of his politics and his comments about institutional governance, rather than his qualifications or job performance,” the AHA wrote. “Indiscreet tweets by a member of the college’s board of trustees raise concerns about the possibility of inappropriate governing board interference and a violation of academic freedom.”

  • AHA Sends Letter Opposing Alabama Legislation Stripping Funding from Department of Archives and History (July 2023)

    The AHA sent a letter to the Alabama legislature opposing Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 4, “which would strip important supplemental appropriations recently designated for the Alabama Department of Archives and History,” the part of the state government “dedicated to identifying, preserving, and providing permanent access to records that tell the story of all Alabamians. Furthermore, the department’s Museum of Alabama plays a critical role in making the state’s history accessible to its citizens, families, and schoolchildren.” The archival collections relied on by “genealogists, students, historians, [and] journalists” “are essential to how we learn about our individual and collective pasts,” the AHA wrote. “Meaningful access to well-preserved archives of government activities is important to a free society and a vital aspect of government accountability.”

  • AHA Signs On to ACLS Statement on Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling (July 2023)

    The AHA has signed on to the ACLS’s statement on the US Supreme Court’s ruling that “race-conscious admissions programs at colleges and universities [are] unlawful, thus rejecting widely accepted practices meant to encourage diversity that have been part of US higher education for more than fifty years.” “The active participation of diverse people in the scholarly enterprise is the best way to combat historic and systemic inequities,” the statement reads. “In partnership with academic societies, scholars, administrators, supporters, and peer organizations, we seek better ways to recruit and retain a diverse community of scholars across all fields of study and to serve a more diverse professoriate. We will continue our collective effort to ignite and advance systemic change within the academy.”

  • AHA Sends Letter Opposing Museum of the American Revolution’s Hosting of Moms for Liberty Event (June 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the Museum of the American Revolution asking that the museum “reconsider its decision to rent event space to Moms for Liberty as part of that organization’s Joyful Warriors National Summit.” “Moms for Liberty has crossed a boundary in its attempts to silence and harass teachers, rather than participate in legitimate controversy. . . . [T]his isn’t about politics or different understandings of our nation’s past; it’s about an organization whose mission is to obstruct the professional responsibilities of historians,” the AHA wrote. “We encourage you to reconsider whether this organization should be granted the legitimacy of holding a major event at a museum with the reputation and professional standing of the Museum of the American Revolution.”

  • AHA Endorses Senate Resolution Recognizing Anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre (June 2023)

    The AHA has endorsed a US Senate resolution “recognizing the anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and honoring the lives and legacies of the nearly 300 Black individuals who were killed and the nearly 9,000 Black individuals who were left homeless and penniless as a result.” Executive director Jim Grossman said about the resolution, “Everything has a history, including white supremacy and the many forms of violence, coercion, and cultural practices that have legitimated and enforced it. What happened in Tulsa was extreme, but not unusual. It is part of our nation's heritage. We must acknowledge that heritage, learn from it, and do whatever each of us can to ensure that it is just that—heritage, rather than continuing practice.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Alabama Senate Opposing “Divisive Concepts” Bill (May 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the Alabama Senate opposing Senate Bill 247, which would “make it virtually impossible for history educators to help students thoughtfully consider the continuing impacts of slavery and racism in American history.” By requiring public schools, colleges, and universities to teach that slavery and racism are solely “deviations from, betrayals of, and failures to live up to the founding principles of the United States,” SB 247 “would therefore prohibit teachers from asking students to consider a diverse set of primary sources and wrestle with one of the central academic issues in historical scholarship for more than 50 years: the historical relationship between slavery and freedom. . . . If passed, this bill would result in ignorance of basic facts about American history and undermine the education of Alabama’s students, including their ability to perform effectively in advanced coursework, whether in high school or college.”

  • AHA Releases Statement Opposing Exclusion of LGBTQ+ History in Florida (May 2023)

    The AHA has released a statement condemning the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE)’s recent ruling banning educators from “provid[ing] classroom instruction to students in grades 4 through 12 on sexual orientation or gender identity unless such instruction is . . . expressly required by state academic standards.” “This erasure flattens the story of America’s long Civil Rights Movement… [and] bars students from examining cultures, religions, and societies—including Indigenous nations within Florida—that have embraced traditions of gender fluidity and homosexuality as meaningful categories of social identity and organization,” the AHA wrote. “We ask that the FLDOE reconsider its vague and destructive policy of censorship, and instead encourage the teaching of accurate and inclusive histories of the United States and the world.” To date, 51 organizations have signed on to the statement.

  • AHA Signs On to CIE Letter Urging Title VI Funding for FY 2024 (May 2023)

    The AHA signed on to letters from the Coalition for International Education asking leaders in the US Senate and House of Representatives to approve “robust funding” for HEA-Title VI, International Education, and Fulbright-Hays programs. With this funding, the letter states, “Students from all racial and socio-economic backgrounds would have more opportunities to obtain the international experience and skills in growing demand across a wide range of professional and technical fields impacting our global engagement, security and competitiveness.”

  • AHA Submits Testimony Opposing Ohio Learning Standards Legislation (May 2023)

    The AHA has submitted testimony to the Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee expressing “grave concern” about House Bill 103, which would create a new, politically appointed task force to produce state social studies standards. The legislation, the AHA wrote, “would create an entirely new bureaucratic apparatus as a strategy for overruling an open, democratic, and professional process.” Additionally, HB 103 singles out the American Birthright model standards, which emphasize “content in place of critical thinking … focus[ing] narrowly on lessons about how students should feel about the United States,” as the basis for “a radical overhaul of history and social studies education in Ohio.

  • AHA Sends Letter to North Carolina House of Representatives Opposing Bill to Eliminate Tenure (May 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to members of the North Carolina House of Representatives: the Education - Community Colleges Committee, and the Education - Universities Committee. The letter opposes HB 715, which would eliminate tenure for new hires at state universities beginning in July 2024. This, the AHA wrote, is “a short-sighted and ill-conceived policy that would significantly undercut what has been accomplished over decades by the thousands of individuals responsible for building a university system that ranks among the best in the world. . . . . Tenure helps to protect university classrooms and laboratories as spaces where learning is advanced and new knowledge is created, rather than any given political platform promoted.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Florida Senate Opposing Restrictive Education Bill (May 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the Florida Senate registering “strong objection” to SB 266, legislation which “proposes to allow the study of the past only through an exceedingly narrow and tendentious frame.” As an amended version of HB 999, about which the AHA “expressed horror” in March, “the new provisions would serve only to restrict the extent to which history faculty are allowed to introduce Florida students to non-Western civilizations. . . . [T]he bill’s repeated emphasis on teaching only a thin slice of history to all students in required courses would hobble students and deprive them of the chance to become global leaders.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to SFSU President Regarding “Investigation” of History Professor (April 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to San Francisco State University president Lynn Mahoney expressing “deep concern” regarding the university’s “investigation” of Professor Maziar Behrooz for showing a drawing of the prophet Muhammad in his course on the history of the Islamic world between 500 and 1700. “Sanctioning Professor Behrooz for showing an image relevant to the course on grounds that it offended a student would constitute a serious breach of the professor’s academic freedom,” the AHA wrote. “Any attempts to ban the teaching of primary sources on the grounds that they offend religious sensibilities would mean that SFSU would be taking a position on a theological matter—one that is well beyond the purview of institutions of higher education.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Texas House of Representatives Opposing Legislation to Eliminate Tenure (April 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the members of the Texas House of Representatives opposing SB 18, which would eliminate tenure for new hires at public institutions in the state beginning in 2024. “Tenure helps to protect university classrooms and laboratories as spaces where learning is advanced and new knowledge is created, rather than any given political platform promoted,” the AHA wrote. “Were Texas to eliminate ‘tenure-track’ positions… any public university in Texas would immediately become an employer of last choice among scholars who desire an environment amenable to high-quality teaching and research.”

  • AHA Sends Letter Opposing Proposed South Dakota Social Studies Standards (April 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to the South Dakota Board of Education Standards registering strong concern that the social studies standards draft on the agenda for the Board of Education Standards’ April 17 meeting fails to satisfy the AHA’s Criteria for Standards in History/Social Studies/Social Sciences. “The document’s numerous flaws can be traced to a process that was rushed, secretive, and driven by political motives at the expense of the educational needs of South Dakota students,” the AHA wrote. “The AHA joins a clear majority of South Dakotans in its assessment of this unabashed attempt to interfere in K–12 social studies education.”

  • AHA Sends Letter to Ohio Senate Opposing Higher Education Bill (April 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to members of the Ohio Senate registering “strong objection” to Ohio Senate Bill 83, which would “undermine the integrity of education in Ohio’s public universities.” The level of state oversight described in the bill, the AHA wrote, “smacks less of guaranteeing the ideological diversity cited in the legislation than government surveillance more closely resembling the Soviet Union or Communist China than a public university system in the United States. . . . If passed, SB 83 would undermine the quality of public higher education in Ohio by preventing qualified instructors from teaching honest and accurate history.”

  • AHA Signs On to ACLS Statement Opposing Florida House Bill 999 (March 2023)

    The AHA has signed on to a statement from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) opposing Florida House Bill 999, "protest[ing] this proposed legislation and call[ing] on citizens to recognize the danger it poses to higher education in this country." If HB 999 passes, the ACLS writes, "it ends academic freedom in the state's public colleges and universities, with dire consequences for their teaching, research, and financial well-being. . . . Academic freedom means freedom of thought, not the state-mandated production of histories edited to suit one party’s agenda in the current culture wars."

  • AHA Statement Opposing Florida House Bill 999 (March 2023)

    The AHA has released a statement on Florida House Bill 999, “express[ing] horror . . . at the assumptions that lie at the heart of this bill and its blatant and frontal attack on principles of academic freedom and shared governance central to higher education in the United States.” “What has previously best been characterized as unwarranted political intervention into public education has now escalated to an attempt at a hostile takeover of a state’s system of higher education,” the AHA writes. “This is not only about Florida. It is about the heart and soul of public higher education in the United States and about the role of history, historians, and historical thinking in the lives of the next generation of Americans.” To date, 84 organizations have signed onto the statement.

  • AHA Letter Expressing Concern for US Citizen and History Teacher Imprisoned in Russia (March 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken expressing "grave concern" for Marc Fogel, a US citizen and history teacher currently imprisoned in Russia, and urging that he be designated as "wrongfully detained" under the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act. "We respectfully urge the reclassification of Mr. Fogel and the respect of his civil and legal rights," the AHA wrote. "We ask for immediate attention to this matter to ensure Mr. Fogel’s health and well-being."

  • AHA Sends Letter to Marymount University Opposing Proposed Elimination of History Major (February 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to Marymount University president Irma Becerra opposing the “short-sighted decision to propose to Marymount University’s governing board the elimination of history and other humanities majors” at the university. “We urge Marymount University to reconsider this decision, which undermines the university’s commitment to ‘intellectual curiosity, service to others, and a global perspective’,” the AHA wrote.

  • AHA Signs On to ACLS Statement in Support of Academic Freedom and New College of Florida (February 2023)

    The AHA has signed on to a statement from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) “in support of ex-President [Dr. Patricia] Okker, the New College community, and faculty and students at institutions of higher education around the country” following Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s politically motivated “overhaul” of New College of Florida. “Their attacks threaten public understanding of our nation’s history and culture, and they undermine key principles of academic freedom and faculty governance,” the ACLS writes.

  • AHA Manager of Teaching and Learning Testifies before Virginia Board of Education (February 2023)

    On February 2, Brendan Gillis, manager of teaching and learning at the AHA, testified before the Virginia Board of Education's hearing on the history and social studies standards revisions process. He spoke in support of the collaborative Combined History and Social Science Standards for Virginia developed by the AHA, the Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium, and the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Brendan reported on the AHA's involvement in Perspectives on History, "The Uncertain Future of Social Studies in Virginia." The AHA has also shared action alerts with VA members encouraging testimony and submitted comments on the draft standards.

  • AHA Sends Letter to US Secretary of State Urging Assistance with Safe Return of Pierre Buteau (January 2023)

    The AHA has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken regarding the January 24 abduction of Professor Pierre Buteau, president of the Société Haïtienne d’Histoire, de Géographie et de Géologie. “We recognize that the crisis of domestic insecurity in Haiti goes well beyond the fate of a single individual,” the AHA writes. “Understanding Haiti’s history is an essential element of any viable long-term response to this crisis, and Professor Buteau has devoted his professional life to bringing such understanding to bear on the challenge of re-founding a democratic state in his native land. On behalf of the American historical community, we appeal to you to use your good offices at this difficult time in Haiti’s history to do whatever is possible to help secure the safe release of Professor Buteau.”

  • AHA Sends Letters Opposing Proposed Elimination of History Major at Marymount University (January 2023)

    The AHA has sent letters to Marymount University president Irma Becerra, provost Hesham El-Rewini, Faculty Council president Sarah Ficke, and Board of Trustees chair Edward Bersoff opposing the proposed elimination of the history major at the university. “The AHA has seen this approach to prioritization and restructuring before, and the results have been detrimental to students. . . . Overwhelming evidence shows that employers seek the kind of skills a history degree can provide,” the AHA wrote. “This elimination is an especially wrongheaded shift at a time when civic leaders from all corners of the political landscape have lamented the lack of historical knowledge of American citizens. Offering a history major is standard at comprehensive universities, and the elimination of the history major would place Marymount far outside the mainstream of its peer institutions.”

  • AHA Signs On to American Anthropological Association Letter Opposing Appointees to New College of Florida Governing Board (January 2023)

    The AHA has signed onto a letter from the American Anthropological Association opposing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s appointment of six new members to the New College of Florida governing board. “The brazen aspiration of transforming a nationally ranked public honors college into a college along the lines of the private evangelical Christian Hillsdale College is especially alarming and appears to be nothing more than an orchestrated attack on academic integrity.”

  • AHA Signs On to CIE Letter Urging Title VI Funding for 2023 (January 2023)

    The AHA signed on to a letter from the Coalition for International Education asking leaders in the US Senate and House of Representatives for “robust funding for HEA-Title VI, International Education, and Fulbright-Hays programs.” In addition to “strengthen[ing] the key Title VI foundational programs that address the nation’s critical and expanding needs for deep expertise in foreign languages, world regions and international business,” the letter states, this funding “will incentivize research and innovation in U.S. international education capacity, organization and delivery to meet 21st century challenges, as well as expand international and foreign language education to traditionally underserved students and institutions.”