Guest List: Back to School with the HistoryMakers

September 23, 2011 5:35:03 AM PDT
On Friday, hip-hop artist, actor and author Common, along with more than 100 Chicago-area HistoryMakers, will join more than 500 African-American HistoryMakers nationwide for the second annual Back to School with the HistoryMakers program.

This effort comes at a critical time for our nation's school children, especially those who live in the inner city. At the same time we see an escalating unemployment rate, we also see increases in the number of children dropping out of high school. School systems across the country are struggling with funding cuts to provide the basics, so extra money for programs that encourage our children to remain in school and succeed is often nowhere to be found.

Our HistoryMakers are committing themselves to being the difference in the lives of school children. Many of them grew up attending public schools and they all are examples of success.

Among this year's participants are actress Marla Gibbs, jazz singer Geraldine de Haas (Mahalia Jackson Elementary School), Chicago historian Timuel Black (Perspectives IIT Math & Science Academy), Chicago Defender newspaper president Robert Sengstacke, and Ambassador Carol Mosely-Braun.

The HistoryMakers, the nation's largest African American video oral history archive, is launching the 2nd Annual Back to School With The HistoryMakers program deploying living African American HistoryMakers into schools in thirty-five states across the country to recount their own school experiences and the struggles they encountered and most importantly, to commit to excellence and finishing their education. The theme of the day is COMMIT.

The 2nd Annual Back To School With The HistoryMakers participants include Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, former Ambassador Andrew Young, singer/actress Melba Moore, Broadway choreographer George Faison, poet Nikki Giovanni, actress T'Keyah Crystal Keymah (Living Color, The Cosby Show), Social Justice leader Rev. Al Sharpton, Noted Journalist Roland Martin and poet/author Sonia Sanchez.

The HistoryMakers' Founder and Executive Director, Julieanna Richardson, says she launched the Back-to-School With The HistoryMakers initiative to respond to President Obama's call for public service in a real and meaningful way by helping youth recognize that there are alternatives to violence and the challenges they confront. "By bringing these living legends into the schools," said Ms. Richardson, "we raise awareness about the achievements of the accomplished African Americans in local communities and bring these leaders into schools to see things firsthand."

Richardson is encouraging educators across the country to use multimedia resources such as The HistoryMakers' digital archive to enrich their students' exposure to the contributions of African Americans in every community.

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