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San Diego nonprofit trains teens in Ghana to track slave trade through drones

A San Diego nonprofit, which trains teenage girls of color to use drones to discover their heritage, has taken the program to Africa. The founder of Our Genetic Legacy met with school girls in Ghana, as part of a new initiative about the slave trade between Africa, the US and the UK. KPBS reporter, Claire Strong, has the story.<br/>

The organization is called Our Genetic Legacy. Founder Shellie Baxter met with high school students in Accra, Ghana as part of a new initiative about the transatlantic slave trade between Africa, the US and UK. Around 150 girls will take part in drone pre-training next July, then 15 teenagers will be selected for the formal yearlong course. In addition to becoming certified drone pilots they will also be taught how to use LiDar and mapping technology.

"What they do is map the areas that are significant in BIPOC history,” Baxter explained, “to show people of color as contributors of American history — as people with names versus as tools as they are commonly portrayed."

The drone images will then be used to create digital exhibits for the first virtual BIPOC history museum, which will tell stories from the perspective of the descendants of the slave trade. Baxter hopes introducing the girls to the geospatial industry will lead to great career opportunities, too.


“The impact on women in STEAM is universal” Baxter said. “It's not a problem we just have here in the states in terms of access to the resources and the training. So it's really exciting to be able to provide this opportunity to empower the girls in who they are culturally and to also give them the skills and resources to become high-wage earners".

Next stop for the program is the UK, where students there will also be taught to fly drones to help unearth how the transatlantic slave trade shaped their lives today.