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Columbia Spectator Staff

After last February's launch of Mapping the African American Past, a Web site created by Columbia agencies, site founders hope that their project will allow teachers, students, and parents to acquire a deeper understanding of how historical areas have influenced the history of New York.

MAAP, created by the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, Columbia University's Teachers College, and Creative Curriculum Initiatives, features images, videos, and audio aimed at bringing students and teachers closer to historical events by highlighting historical hot spots in New York's geography.

The Web site includes a three-minute introductory video, which features speakers stressing the importance of understanding how sites across New York have changed African American history.

"It's not that it's experience or books, or experience or geography. I think that once you've got a kind of spatial feeling of what you're talking about, it's more meaningful to you," professor Kenneth Jackson said in a video featured on the Web site.

MAAP lists nearly fifty-two places, such as the Abolitionist Place, Five Points, and Weeksville, which include videos and images explaining the importance of the site—all of which can be used for educators' lesson plans, as well as by avent history buffs.
Additionally, some of the fifty-two places offers directions and maps for visiting and student field trips.

The Web site also features information on historical figures who have contributed to the abolitionist movement, changed the landscapes of music and culture, or made great strides in demanding equal rights—such as Duke Ellington, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman.

Besides historical figures, the Web site focuses on major events in New York black history—the New York City draft riots of 1863 and the slave revolt of 1712. The New York City draft riots occurred around Gramercy Park, and the slave revolt ran along today's downtown financial area. Web site founders hope that in connecting to the geographic location of major historical events, teachers and students will be able to better understand turning points in the course of the nation's history.

Podcasts of all the fifty-two places are also available for history fans to create their own audio tours.

"One of the ways where we can see Harlem persist, the Harlem Renaissance persist, today is through a project like this, where you map the buildings where artists congregated, but I think, particularly through a project like this, where you can map sites for a larger public forum, secondary school and public school audience," associate professor Jones said on the video.

Harlem black history web site
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