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Website of the Week — In Motion: African-American Migration Experience

Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. Our web guide is VOA's Art Chimes.

February is Black History Month in the United States, and so we feature an extraordinary online exhibit that looks at African-American life as a series of mass migrations — from the slave trade to the journeys from the rural South to northern cities to present-day immigration from Africa. It's a project of the New York Public Library called "In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience."

The trans-Atlantic slave trade was, of course forced. But in most cases since then, the black migrations were voluntary, as African-Americans took to the road (or rail, sea, or air) to seek a better life.

DODSON: "For far too long, the history of the African-American experience has been written as a history of our victimization, what others have done to us. With the migration theme you begin to see what people of African descent have done for themselves."

Howard Dodson heads the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Public Library unit behind this online exhibit.

DODSON: "We've been able, over the course of the three years of the project, to put together some 25,000 pages of material, 16,000 of them text [and] 8,000 of them images, to tell this really remarkable story in a very in-depth way."

The 13 migrations highlighted include journeys by runaway slaves, emigration to Africa and elsewhere, and the so-called Great Migration from southern farms to northern factories. And what really makes this special is the vast amount of material — like original documents, maps and photos — that help bring the story to life.

DODSON: "Scholarly articles, manuscript items, chapters of books — whole books at times — that allows a person who wants to know more about that particular migration to go into it in greater depth."

The African-American Migration Experience website also includes online lesson plans to help teachers use the material. For an in-depth look at African-American history that goes beyond just a few famous names or events, surf on over to, or get the link from our site,