Poet Sonia Sanchez returns to The HistoryMakers to host a double The HistoryMakers Year in Review—2008 & 2009. 2008 is a big year, with An Evening With Richard Parsons taped in Washington, D.C. at The George Washington University with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. Future president (then U.S. Senator) Barack Obama is featured in The HistoryMakers Agents of Change public program. The year rounds out with An Evening With Eartha Kitt, where the iconic singer shares her life story in conversation with Gwen Ifill in Chicago. In 2009, The HistoryMakers receives a financial boost with generous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation as well as a large gift from Herbert P. Wilkins, Sr. and Sheran L. Wilkins to increase education about African Americans in politics, science, and media, respectively. While a solid 294 HistoryMakers are interviewed in 2008, only six new interviews make it to the archive in 2009. In addition to behind-the-scenes footage of the PBS-TV tapings and other events these years, this evening program will include a pre-recorded performance by René Marie in tribute to Eartha Kitt, Richard Parsons, and those interviewed in 2008 and 2009. The evening closes with the screening of An Evening With Eartha Kitt and An Evening With Richard Parsons.
Poet and activist Sonia Sanchez was born on September 9, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama. When Sanchez was a year old, her mother died, leaving her to be raised by her father, Wilson L Driver, a school teacher, and her paternal grandmother. Sanchez learned to read and write at a young age but drifted between family and friends following her grandmother's death. She earned a B.S. degree from Hunter College and attended graduate school at New York University. She also attended workshops in Greenwich Village. Working as an activist with the Congress of Racial Equality, she was influenced by Malcolm X. Sanchez became a prolific writer and earned numerous honors and awards. Sanchez lectured at more than 500 universities and colleges in the United States, and read her work in various parts of the world.
Taped: Saturday, September 20, 2008
This hour long, one-on-one interview program provided an inside look into the life and career of legendary actress and singer Eartha Kitt. Taped on September 20, 2008 in front of a packed audience at Northwestern University Law School’s Thorne Auditorium, An Evening With Eartha Kitt featured PBS-TV veteran journalist Gwen Ifill as the program host and interviewer.
Eartha Kitt distinguished herself in film, theater, cabaret, music and on television. The interview covered Kitt’s childhood, her musical and acting career in the U.S. and abroad, working with such greats as Sidney Poitier and Orson Welles, her career on Broadway and her role as Catwoman on the 1960s live-action Batman television series.
Eartha Kitt was an international star who gave new meaning to the word versatile. This interview was enlightening, engaging and provided rich insight into one of enterainment’s all-time greats. The program concluded with Eartha Kitt singing “Ain’t Misbehavin,’” “La Vie En Rose” and “Here’s to Life.” An Evening With Eartha Kitt marked Kitt’s last live performance of her career.
Taped: Saturday, November 15, 2008
This hour-long, one-on-one interview program showcased the life and career of corporate giant, Richard Parsons. Taped live in Washington, D.C. on the campus of The George Washington University at the Jack Morton Auditorium on Saturday, November 15, 2008, this program was the fifteenth in The HistoryMakers’ An Evening With... series. CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien served as the program’s interviewer.
Born in New York, Parsons went on to become Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, before assuming the chairmanship of Citigroup. The interview covered Parsons’ childhood, the extensive impact his mentor, Nelson Rockefeller, had on him and his legal and business careers. The life of Richard Parsons is an example that businessmen and women look to for guidance and aspire to become.