Take These Google Earth Tours Through American Black History

"The Journey of Us" project is a collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, and Google.
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Image: Google

Google is aiding two black institutions to offer a more immersive look at black history in the US. The result—a series of virtual tours exploring important moments and places in black history.

The project, called “the Journey of Us: A Voyage Through Black History,” utilizes Google Earth’s satellite images and Street View to transport users to some of the most important locations in black history, unearthing little-known contributions that black people have made to the country. Users can learn who the first black person to earn a patent was in 1791, or where the first historically black university was founded.

“Black history has shaped the American experience,” Marian Croak, Google’s vice president of reliability engineering for YouTube and ads, wrote in a blog post. “My story is a single pin in a sea of many. The stories include generations of people who pushed boundaries and resisted limiting ideologies as they paved the way for the next generation.”

The tours are split into six themes: education, business, technology, advocacy, dance, and film/TV. The tours take users to cities like Florence, MA (the town Sojourner Truth escaped slavery to), Montgomery, AL (where Claudette Colvin launched a legal battle over discrimination on the city’s buses months before Rosa Parks) and Oakland, CA (where the Black Panther Party was formed).

The project was curated by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York and Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Center in Washington D.C.

“Corporations like Google have access to millions and millions of people that educational institutions don’t,” Lopez Matthews, a digital librarian at Howard University’s Moorland Spingarn who helped curate the education tour, told Motherboard. “This is a good introduction to black history, and I hope it inspires people to look further.”