Thursday, September 9, 2010

African American History Makers Launch Innovative Back to School Program

Via Press Release: On Friday, September 17th, as students across the country begin the new school year, more than 200 African-American HistoryMakers nationwide will return to school as well. The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African-American video oral history archive, is celebrating ten years in existence by launching a program to help confront the issue of youth violence and inspire youth to greatness.

The "Back-to-School With The HistoryMakers" program will deploy living African-American history-makers into schools in more than 30 states across the country to recount their own school experiences and the struggles they encountered.

"Back-to-School With The HistoryMakers" participants include former U.S. Senator and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, Former Ohio Congressman Louis Stokes, Civil Rights Activist C. T. Vivian, Poet Nikki Giovanni, actress Marla Gibbs (227, The Jeffersons), United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and pianist Ramsey Lewis.

The HistoryMakers Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Julieanna Richardson, says she launched the "Back-to-School With The HistoryMakers” initiative because she wanted to respond to President Obama’s call for public service in a real and meaningful way and to help youth recognize that there are alternatives to violence and the challenges they confront.

"Despite the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954, many of our schools are still racially segregated. By bringing these living legends into the schools, we raise awareness about the achievements of accomplished African-Americans in local communities and bring these leaders into schools to see things firsthand," said Richardson. She is encouraging educators across the country to use multimedia resources such as The HistoryMakers’ digital archive to enrich students' exposure to the contributions of African-Americans in every community.

Among the oral histories currently on file at The HistoryMakers are such notables as Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Composer Quincy Jones, Actress Ruby Dee, Civil Rights Activist Rev. Al Sharpton, Former Massachusetts Attorney General Edward Brooke, III and entertainer Smokey Robinson.

The HistoryMakers is a 501 (3) (c) non-profit dedicated to recording and preserving the personal histories of well-known and unsung African Americans. To date, the organization has interviewed over 2,000 HistoryMakers, with the goal of creating an archive of 5,000 interviews (30,000 hours) for the establishment of a one-of-a-kind digital archive, and priceless educational resource.

For more information, visit The HistoryMakers website at and The HistoryMakers digital archive at

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