“America sat at a critically important crossroads,” said Ms Richardson, “where racist ideology was on the rise and documentation and preservation of 20th century African American life, history and culture risked being lost forever if action was not taken.” She noted that many key public figures were passing away without having their stories documented and preserved for the benefit of succeeding generations. Thus, The HistoryMakers was born.
The organization consists of several sections such as Medicine, Politics, Business, Law, Science, Theater and Entertainment. I serve as a co-chair of the EntertainmentMakers Advisory Committee along with Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the former President (and first African-American to hold that office) of the Oscars organization, AMPAS (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences).
Today, The HistoryMakers, headquartered in Chicago, is a 501 (c)(3) organization and is the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive and depository. With education as its mission, its one-of-a-kind collection is housed permanently at the Library of Congress and provides an unprecedented and irreplaceable physical and online record of African American lives, accomplishments, and contributions through unique first-person testimony. To increase public understanding and awareness, The HistoryMakers is hosting a virtual convening of some of the nation’s top African American thought leadership. Hosted on YouTube and Facebook from December 1st through Sunday, December, 20th, The HistoryMakers 20@2020: 20 Days and 20 Nights is shining a light on the urgency of this mission as well as providing a first time, behind the scenes view of The HistoryMakers organization, its digital archives and educational initiatives and its iconic “An Evening With…” PBS-TV programs.
Participants include business leaders Ken Chenault, Ken Frazier and Clarence Otis; entrepreneur Daymond John, actor Danny Glover, poets Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni; activist Angela Davis; music legends Dionne Warwick and Denyce Graves; radio hosts Rickey Smiley and Karen Hunter; lawyers The Honorable Eric Holder, Anita Hill, and Sherrilyn Ifill; civic leaders and educators Johnnetta B. Cole and Ruth Simmons; political leaders Valerie Jarrett, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn and Maxine Waters and many others-all coming together to support this great cause.