African American Historymakers Go Back To School in Syracuse Day of Service


Chicago (September, 2015) – From the time she was a young girl, the mother of cell biologist George Langford knew that she would not have the opportunity to go to college. According to Langford, “It was a tradition in farm families that one child would be chosen to go to college. My mother’s older sister was the person chosen to do that, and so my mother had to work with her father in the fields.” Years later, when she had children of her own, Langford’s mother was committed to giving her children the educational opportunities that she dreamed of. Langford has certainly made his mother proud. With her Ph.D. in cell biology, Langford is dean emeritus of both the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Syracuse University.

This is the kind of story that students across the country will hear on September 25, 2015, when Langford will join hundreds of HistoryMakers nationwide for the 6th Annual Back to School With The HistoryMakers program. The theme of the day is “COMMIT.” HistoryMakers will return to classrooms to give their testimony of pursuing an education, overcoming challenges on their path to success, and making a difference in their communities. Most importantly, they will encourage students to COMMIT to finishing their education.

George W. Fowler High School

George W. Fowler High School

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is chairing the nationwide effort with the goal of having more than 400 black leaders go “back to school” in 67 cities and 32 states. The program puts HistoryMakers in direct contact with over 25,000 students in 200 schools across the nation, to inspire them with their life’s stories and to encourage youth to strive for excellence.

Last year, former WCBS-TV anchor Roz Abrams went “back to school” at Queens Gateway to Health High School in Queens, New York: “I’m a HistoryMaker, and one of the things that they insist upon is that we go out into the community for our Back to School program and reach out to the kids.” Abrams is one of three Regional Coordinators in the New York area on The HistoryMakers National Advisory Board. Another Regional Coordinator, Harriette Cole, added: “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.”

The HistoryMakers Founder and Executive Director, Julieanna Richardson, is encouraging educators everywhere to use The HistoryMakers’ Digital Archive (http://www.thehistorymakers.com/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 easy-to-access interviews with over 1,000 HistoryMakers.

Among the HistoryMakers participating that day:

George Langford

George Langford

Biologist and academic administrator George Langford served on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Howard University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also conducted research at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. Langford joined the faculty of Dartmouth College in 1991 as the Ernest Everett Just Professor of Natural Sciences. Between 2005 and 2008, Langford served as the dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2008, he was chosen to lead as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. He served on the National Science Board from 1998 to 2004. He will be attending George Fowler High School.

The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive, is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit dedicated to recording and preserving the personal histories of well-known and unsung African Americans. Recently, The HistoryMakers designated the Library of Congress to serve as the permanent repository for its collection of interviews.  To date, the organization has interviewed over 2,700 HistoryMakers with the goal of creating an archive of 5,000 interviews for the establishment of a one-of-a-kind Digital Archive.