‘HistoryMakers’ program brings African-American leaders to Chesterfield Community High School

“There was a woman named Gwen Johnson. I don’t know if she knows what influence she had on me, but she did. I’d never seen a woman walk with such pride,” says television actress, Daphne Reid, in her interview with The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive.

Reid met other mentors along the way to becoming a model and a television actress. Despite her initial desire to attend the Fashion Industries High School in New York, she was swayed to attend the Bronx High School of Science. Her teacher there submitted a photograph of her to a modeling agency, which led to the launch of her modeling career.

Students at Chesterfield Community High School will get to hear Daphne Reid and other leaders on Friday, September 27, as they join hundreds of African-American HistoryMakers across the nation for the 4th Annual Back to School With The HistoryMakers program to COMMIT to excellence and finishing their education.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is chairing the nationwide effort with the goal of having more than 500 black leaders go “back to school” in 67 cities and 30 states. The program puts HistoryMakers in direct contact with over 25,000 students across the nation, to inspire them with their life’s stories and to encourage youth to strive for excellence.

The theme of the day is “COMMIT,” and the HistoryMakers will personally recount their own school experiences and the struggles that they encountered on their paths to success and, most importantly, to encourage students to COMMIT to their education.    

“I feel so enlightened, like I can do anything,” says a student from the program. The HistoryMakers Founder and Executive Director, Julieanna Richardson, states, “By bringing these living leaders into today’s educational system, we are raising awareness about the achievements of the accomplished African-Americans in local communities and bringing these leaders into schools to see things firsthand, while providing important role models for today’s youth.”

Richardson is encouraging educators everywhere to use The HistoryMakers’ digital archive to enrich their students’ exposure to the contributions of African-Americans across the globe. This year, schools participating in the event will receive a free one-year membership for the digital archive, which includes extensive and easy-to-access interviews with 310 HistoryMakers.

Last year’s successful Back to School With The HistoryMakers program sent nearly 500 of our HistoryMakers into schools in 77 cities and 35 states, including 101-year-old “Bloody Sunday” civil rights pioneer, Amelia Boynton Robinson, neo soul artists Kindred the Family Soul (Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon), singer and actress Freda Charcelia Payne, and actor Harry J. Lennix. Many of the HistoryMakers have now adopted a school, one of the goals of the initiative.

The HistoryMakers is a 501 (c) (3) 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.

For more information, visit The HistoryMakers website at www.thehistorymakers.com, and

The HistoryMakers Education page at http://www.thehistorymakers.com/education  

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