Columbia’s Amistad Project Receives Ford Foundation Support

NEW YORK, March 19, 2007 The Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) and Columbia University’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 twenty-first century. With customized features to meet teaching requirements for all fifty states, the 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 the African-American history curriculum to high school students at a variety of skill-levels, AP or 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 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 further information about this project, please contact or Manning Marable,, 212 854-7002, or Kate Wittenberg,, 212 854-0167.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

ColumbiaUniversity’s Center for Contemporary Black History (CCBH) promotes the critical study of black history, culture, and politics within urban America since 1900, with an emphasis on understanding the central role of black intellectuals and public leaders in the making of modern society. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the Center utilizes the educational and research tools of both traditional disciplines and new media technology to organize and enrich the study of contemporary black American history.

The Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) is a center for digital publishing that builds sustainable resources for scholars and students in a variety of disciplines. EPIC’s innovative and successful projects include: Columbia International Affairs Online (, Columbia American History Online ( Gutenberg-e Online History Project (, and Digital Anthropology Resources for Teaching ( These resources take advantage of new technologies while maintaining the traditional quality and purpose of university-based research, teaching, and publishing.

03/19/07 LMK