Hundreds of notable African Americans visited schools across the United States, including many in Atlanta, with the united goal to encourage students to COMMIT to excellence and their education.

Participating HistoryMakers recounted their own school experiences and the struggles that they encountered on their paths to success.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan chaired the nationwide effort, with the goal of having almost 500 black leaders go “back to school” in 68 cities and 30 states. The program puts HistoryMakers in direct contact with over 25,000 students across the nation.

In Atlanta, those participating included Patricia Russel, Polly Adams, Joseph Beasley, Albert Thompson, Andrea Lawrence, Naomi King, Vernon Smith, Jim Alexander, Howard Brown, Edward Spriggs, Mary Harris, Grant Venerable, Juliet Dobbs, Julius Dudley, and John Wesley.

Secretary Duncan along with Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers and Ernest Green, who was one of the Little Rock Nine, visited H.D. Woodson High School, on the northeastern side of Washington, D.C. The school is housed within a brand new building, with modern technology and resources, but still faces challenges such as a 40 percent truancy rate.

Other HistoryMakers shared positive stories from their visits. Oceanographer, Evan Forde, reflected upon his experience at Brownsville Middle School in Miami, stating, “I learned how great the need is in the inner city, and how important it is for me and others like me to share myself with the community!” Chicago-based venture capitalist, Michelle Collins, added from her visit to the University of Chicago Charter School that “every child is curious, wants to know ‘how’, and seeks to understand.”

Richardson encourages those within the African American community to give back.

“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,” she said.

The HistoryMakers is donating subscriptions of The HistoryMakers Digital Archive (http://www.thehistorymakers.com/digital-archive) to participating schools. The digital archive includes extensive and easy-to-access interviews with life stories of over 600 HistoryMakers.

The HistoryMakers is a national non-profit, research and educational institution that is committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans to educate the world about the struggles, determination and achievements of African American life, history and culture. The HistoryMakers shares its collection through The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, The HistoryMakers Education Institute, The HistoryMakers Speakers Bureau, and live public programs. For more information, please visits us online at: www.thehistoryMakers.com

(Photo: Former US Senator, Carol Moseley Braun spoke at the University of Illinois at Springfield)

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