U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings visited Coppin State University Wednesday to announce a federal grant using NASA satellites to study the ecological health of areas that played key roles in the slave trade.
Cummings lauded the program, called The Middle Passage Project, as an opportunity for students at the historically black college to explore their heritage.
“To set foot in Africa and explore the land of your ancestors is an incredible opportunity,” he told the assembly of students and faculty. “Take advantage of it.”
The $186,000 federal grant will allow six students in Coppin’s geography program to use satellite data provided by NASA to study the ecology of Ghana, St. Kitts and Barbados — key landfalls for slave traders. The students will use NASA satellite data to assess the ecological health of the coastlines and rain forest, as well as to assess carbon management policies. Participating students said the program was a good opportunity to improve their science skills while keeping important history alive.
“We’re using present technology to help us connect to the past,” said Micah Crump, a junior at Coppin and one of the program participants.
Douglass Reardon, project director, said that the program uses African American history as a guide to better understanding ecological systems. “We can use science to study how the environment influences human history,” he said. He also said that the data will be used to guide preservation efforts of key historical sites.