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Center for Contemporary Black History and EPIC Create Web Resource on African American Experience

The Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) and Columbia’s Center for Contemporary Black History (CCBH) have received a grant for $91,219 from the Ford Foundation to develop the prototype for a new Web-based multimedia resource, the Amistad Digital Resource for Teachers.

A number of state legislatures across the country have recently passed educational mandates requiring the integration of African American history into the social studies curriculum in K-12 public schools, to provide a more inclusive and accurate record of American history. Even today, the majority of public schools do not thoroughly teach the African American experience. Furthermore, most history and social science instructors have never taken related courses and are not trained or sufficiently knowledgeable to teach it.

The Amistad Digital Resource, which will be accessible to users at no cost, will provide a much-needed solution to help teachers fulfill this new curricular requirement. It will be designed as a unique multimedia resource for secondary school teachers to enhance their knowledge and ability in teaching African American history. The resource will combine rare and iconic photographs, audio recordings, film clips and excerpts of oral history interviews with a descriptive narrative text explaining significant themes and key events in African American history from slavery to the 21st century. With customized features to meet teaching requirements for all 50 states, Amistad Digital Resource will be designed for national use.

This grant from the Ford Foundation funds the development of a prototype module for the period covering the modern Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (1954–1975). We have chosen this time because it is an especially exciting and engaging period for students. The prototype will include curricular materials and an interactive timeline demonstrating major events in African American history during this period. It will suggest innovative ways to teach African American history curriculum to high school students at a variety of skill levels, advanced placement (AP) and non-AP, in public or private schools, as well as give teachers access to a directory of links to selected teaching resources (archives, historical societies, libraries and museums) and professional development sites such as teacher training workshops and institutes. The prototype is scheduled for launch in December 2007.

Professor Manning Marable, founding director of CCBH, commented: “African American Studies at Columbia University has a strong commitment to enhancing K-12 learning. African American history is American History, and the integration of African American history into the public school curriculum strengthens the quality of education for all students.”

For more information about this project, contact Professor Marable at mm247@columbia.edu or (212) 854-7002, or Kate Wittenberg at kw49@columbia.edu or (212) 854-0167.

Published: Mar 21, 2007
Last modified: Mar 21, 2007