Empathetic Educator

An African American man in a tan sweater teaches students in a classroom.

Alnazir Blackman, a social studies teacher at Science Park High School in Newark, New Jersey, teaches an AP African American Studies class. (Photo Karsten Moran)

Alnazir (Al) Blackman, BA’20, MAT’22 (Flor)

By Sara Campione

Alnazir (Al) Blackman, BA’20, MAT’22 (Flor), is one of the first teachers in the state of New Jersey to teach an Advanced Placement (AP) course on African American history.

Last February, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Newark, N.J., Mayor Ras Baraka attended one of Blackman’s classes at Science Park High School in Newark. They announced a statewide initiative to get more Black history into classrooms, expanding AP course availability into 26 total schools.

“This year I want to incorporate different opportunities for creative learning and unorthodox things, because that’s what the students will remember,” says Blackman.

In class, he and his students discuss African American history and its integral role in history curricula. Blackman says that African American history is often misrepresented or underrepresented in classrooms.

“African American history is American history. It is extremely important,” says Blackman. “It’s not represented enough, and I am honored I have the opportunity to teach it.”

The course exposes students to different cultures and communities.

“When you learn about other cultures or communities, you become empathetic. I want my students to be more culturally aware and loving.”

Blackman’s favorite subject in high school and college was history, which made it an easy specialty to select as an education major. At FDU, he particularly loved Introduction to African History, which he took with Robert Houle, professor of history.

An African American man in a tan sweater sits in a classroom smiling for a portrait.

Alnazir Blackman, pictured here in his classroom, teaches AP Black history. (Photo Karsten Moran)

“I had never learned much about Black history before college, so it was extremely interesting to learn more about the African continent and African diaspora.” Now Blackman is passing along his knowledge to his students, and also learning from them as they go.

“The history courses at FDU taught me a lot about how to conduct research. I use those techniques a lot because obviously, as a newer teacher, I don’t know everything.” He wants his students to know these research best practices, too. Blackman holds workshop-style lessons to teach his students research and writing techniques. “I want to teach my students skills they can use in their other classes, in addition to history,” Blackman says.

For Blackman, the work is endlessly satisfying. “I knew whatever field I went into that I just wanted to help people.” 


Blackman met his fiancée Ciara Price, BA’21 (Flor), during the Educational Opportunity Fund’s summer program. “We became best friends and then started dating. She is a big part of everything that I do — she always keeps me grounded.”


Blackman played running back for the Devils football team. He was named to the 2021 Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team®. He’s the first student-athlete from the Florham Campus to earn the prestigious honor, and one of only two Division III student-athletes to be named to the team that year.


“I use Google Classroom to manage all of the lessons and the materials I give to my students so they can have access to them,” says Blackman. He also uses Kahoot, an educational platform for quizzes, learning games and activities.