- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

NEW YORK - The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has announced the creation of an education project focusing on black migration over the past 400 years.

The project, which includes a new Web site, will give the public access to articles, photographs, maps and historic documents —including a letter from President Abraham Lincoln in which he writes about sending blacks to Haiti.

Entertainer Harry Belafonte, who got his start in a basement theater at the original Schomburg center in Harlem, said that the “In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience” project will help people learn about the “profound impact the African American has had in shaping the culture and history” of the United States.

“This Web site documents our journey,” said Mr. Belafonte, who immigrated from the Caribbean island of Jamaica and worked as a janitor in Harlem before becoming an actor and singer. “It will help us get on with the business of understanding who we are, make us become more prideful and for the rest of the world to understand what they have done to us, for us and with us.”

Besides the Web site, the project includes a book, published by National Geographic, and 100 lesson plans for schools.

The Web site has 17,000 pages of text from books and manuscripts, 8,000 photographs and 65 maps, many specially designed to trace international and domestic migration patterns of approximately 35 million blacks and their ancestors.

For example, someone interested in Virginia can click on a map and follow the journey of runaway slaves from a plantation to the cities, said Sylviane Diouf, the project’s manager.

“This is an invitation to every person of African descent in the United States to revisit their families’ migration histories,” she said.

The project, funded by a $2.4 million federal grant, breaks down the major movements of people of African descent into, out of and within the United States into 13 categories.

The Schomburg Center is a research unit of the New York Public Library, founded in 1911 by Arthur Schomburg.

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