NEW YORK, NY — January 25, 2014 — Announcing AfroCROWD Intro to Wikimedia and How to Edit Wikipedia  workshops at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Info Commons  on February 7th and 8th.


Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown rapidly into one of the largest reference websites, attracting  over 470 million unique visitors monthly. There are more than 76,000 active contributors working on more than 31,000,000 articles in 285 languages. How can people of African descent  be accurately represented among the body of articles and among the editors?


Afro Free Culture Crowdsourcing Wikimedia (AfroCROWD),  is a new initiative which seeks to address this issue by increasing the number of people of African Descent who actively partake in the Wikimedia and free knowledge, culture and software movements. The workshops are open to all Afrodescendants including but not limited to individuals who self-identify as African, African-American, Afro-Latino, Biracial, Black, Black-American, Caribbean,  Garifuna, Haitian or West Indian.


Against the backdrop of Black Wiki History Month Weekend, the AfroCROWD workshops seek to further the International Decade for People of African Descent’s development and education goals and Wikimedia’s goal of increasing its reach. Technology companies Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo and Twitter have recently reported that their workforce is 2% Black,  a figure non-proportionate to the 13% of Blacks living in the United States.  The Black Twitter phenomenon shows that Afrodescendants have successfully taken to social media as an organizing tool.  Exposing more Afrodescendants to Wikipedia has the potential to take this foray a step further and transfer skills that might deepen Afrodescendant exploration of online technology. But beyond it all, editing Wikipedia alone or as a group is a constructive and rewarding way to spend time online.


Although the AfroCROWD February workshops will be held in English, they will take into account that many Afrodescendant groups in the United States might find that access to Wikipedia’s multilingual crowdsourcing platform can help them transfer free knowledge to populations of African descent outside of the United States that they are connected to through origin or direct familial bonds.  Multilingual Afrodescendants may also want to use such platforms to develop and maintain online bodies of relevant knowledge in native languages such as Garifuna, Haitian Kreyòl, Igbo, Spanish, Twi or Yoruba,  contributing to the survival of –and increasing their proficiency in– those languages while also feeling more culturally grounded.


That is why AfroCROWD has attracted outreach partners such as the Haitian Creole Language Institute, the Yoruba Cultural Institute and the Afrolatin@ Project, all of which are vested in promoting the survival of the languages and cultures of their respective groups. For Wynnie Lamour, founder of the Haitian Creole Language Institute of NY: ”As an institution that focuses primarily on creating a dedicated platform for the study of the Haitian Creole Language, it’s important that there is access to information on the language that is clear, well-cited, and accurate. The AfroCROWD workshops will provide HCLI and its members with the tools to participate first-hand in creating, curating, and updating this type of scholarly information.” Ms Lamour, who plans to collaborate with AfroCROWD beyond February, added: “The Wiki training will allow us to strategically place ourselves at the forefront of the current movement of elevating the status of the Haitian Creole Language and providing its speakers with a relevancy that is well-deserved and long overdue.”


AfroCROWD was founded by Alice Backer, founder of and, a Brooklyn-based lawyer, blogger and free knowledge and culture enthusiast who has been aggregating and disseminating Haitian online expression since 2005. Ms. Backer has also launched citizen media campaigns in Haiti, the Caribbean, Africa and the United States.  For Ms. Backer, “This is a great opportunity to make sure that people of African descent are accurately represented. If there is something on Wikipedia that you know and can prove is inaccurate or missing, you can change or add it yourself. You just need to find out how and that’s why we’re here.” She will be aided in initial training efforts by Milos Rancic, a veteran Wikimedian with over 10 years in the movement, Wikimedia Language Committee member and chair of Interglider.ORG


Wikipedia  is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia based on a model of openly editable content. It is written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity.

The AfroCROWD kickoff takes place during Black Wiki History Month Weekend (Feb. 7th and 8th), a series of three workshops targeting blacks brought to you by the Schomburg Center, Wikimedia NYC and AfroCROWD. Black Wiki History Month Weekend will take place at the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch and at the Schomburg Center in Harlem.  Activities are scheduled as follows:


Saturday Feb. 7th

Black Lives Matter Edit-a-thon at the Schomburg Center in Harlem from 12 to 5PM  AfroCROWD Kickoff Edit-a-thon at the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch  from 12:30  to 3PM


Sunday Feb. 8th

AfroCROWD Kickoff Edit-a-thon  at the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch from 1-3:30 PM.


For more information, visit AfroCROWD’s Facebook page

To RSVP for Brooklyn Public Library (Feb 7th or 8th), visit:

To RSVP for the Schomburg Center (Feb 7th), visit:


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Afro Free Culture Crowdsourcing Wikimedia (AfroCROWD) is  a new initiative which seeks to increase the number of people of African Descent who actively partake in the Wikimedia and free knowledge, culture and software movements. Additional information can be found at and at the forthcoming


Wikimedia New York City is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which serves as the local Wikimedia chapter for New York City and the New York metropolitan area, as well as for all Wikimedians across the Northeast US who find it most convenient to participate in meetings in New York City.


The Brooklyn Public Library is the public library system of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. It is the fifth largest public library system in the United States. It is located at 10 Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and is near the Grand Army Plaza stop (2,3 lines).


The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a research library of the New York Public Library and an archive repository for information on people of African descent worldwide. It is located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037.

Media Contact:

Alice Backer



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