Ford Foundation President Darren Walker makes a special appearance to host The HistoryMakers Year in Review—2017, looking back on a year filled with activity. The HistoryMakers goes on the road to honor HistoryMakers in cities across the country including Miami, Dallas, Birmingham (Alabama), Milwaukee, New Orleans, Jackson (Mississippi), Denver, Columbus (Ohio), Savannah (Georgia), and Martha’s Vineyard. The City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library co-host a special press event to announce the offering of The HistoryMakers Digital Archive free of charge to all Chicago library patrons, and The HistoryMakers establishes relationships with more university archives around the nation. Hosted by actress/director Regina Taylor and actor/producer Harry Lennix, An Evening With The HistoryMakers: Chicago Stories is taped at The Art Institute of Chicago and ends with a call to action for attendees to address pressing societal issues. The year closes with An Evening With Franklin Thomas, honoring the accomplished civic and business leader in New York City, and 192 HistoryMaker interviews across the country. In addition to behind-the-scenes footage of the PBS-TV tapings and other events that year, the program includes pre-recorded performances by Angelique Kidjo and Femi Kuti from International Jazz Day in tribute to Franklin Thomas and those interviewed in 2017. Immediately following will be a screening of An Evening With Franklin Thomas and An Evening With The HistoryMakers: Chicago Stories.
Taped: Saturday, November 11, 2017
An Evening With Franklin Thomas was a live to tape show honoring legal, business, and civic leader, Franklin Thomas. Chaired by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, An Evening With Franklin Thomas featured musical performances by Dianne Reeves, Carmen Lundy, and Ntomb'khona Dlamini. Close friends and associates from Thomas’ time as president and CEO of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and president of the Ford Foundation narrated events from Thomas’ life and spoke to his character as a public servant. Presenters included Ursula Burns, Vernon E. Jordan, Edward Lewis, Gay McDougall, Raymond McGuire, Indra Nooyi, Sandra Phillips, Mamphela Ramphele, Judge Albie Sachs, Henry Schacht, and Gloria Steinem. The evening’s stories highlighted Thomas’ intellect, generosity, and charisma. An Evening With Franklin Thomas was a night that will not be soon forgotten by all in attendance.
Taped: Saturday, April 22, 2017
An Evening With The HistoryMakers, hosted by actor playwright Regina Taylor and actor Harry Lennix, showcased the richness of Chicago’s African American community, a richness we all need reminded of, amidst all the violence and turmoil, and the significant loss of leadership in the African American community. An Evening With The HistoryMakers is the first program in the An Evening With... series to make The HistoryMakers archive the focus, telling the history and legacy of Chicago through stories from the Collection.
The purpose of An Evening With The HistoryMakers was to educate through the archive, and the HistoryMakers themselves, about the history, lives, careers and contributions of African Americans here in Chicago. The HistoryMakers Collection is about excellence and commitment. It provides role models and a source of identity for young people, empowering them through the stories of those that came before them. An Evening With The HistoryMakers stemmed from the organization's concern about the growing violence and the lack of memory of Chicago’s rich history and legacy as well as the growing generational gap between the city’s youth and older community members.
From Johnson Publishing to Johnson Products, from Operation Push to the Chicago Urban League, from DuSable Museum to the National Black Arts Movement, Chicago was a leader amongst American cities. Yet, increasingly, few know of this history. This, in turn, is having a deleterious effect on our youth, who have been, and continue to be, marginalized. We need to let them know that this history is their rich inheritance.