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Julieanna L. Richardson

Julieanna L. Richardson, Founder & President, The HistoryMakers

Founder & President, The HistoryMakers

Chicago, IL

Julieanna L. Richardson has a diverse background in theatre, television production, and the cable television industry that created a unique path to founding the largest effort to record the African American experience since the WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930s. Founded in 2000, The HistoryMakers is a national, 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution headquartered in Chicago committed to preserving, developing and providing easy access to an internationally recognized, archival collection of thousands of African American video oral histories. 

A 1980 graduate of Harvard Law School, Richardson graduated from Brandeis University with a double-major in Theatre Arts and American Studies, where she did extensive oral history interviews on the Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes. She worked as a corporate lawyer at the Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block prior to serving in the early 1980s as the Cable Administrator for the City of Chicago Office of Cable Communications.

Richardson currently sits on the Honors Council of Lawyers for the Creative Arts; Simmons University Dean’s Advisory Council of the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities, and James Madison University’s Flowerings Advisory Council. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Howard University (2012), Dominican University (2014) and Brandeis University (2016). She has also served as the commencement speaker for Dominican University as well as Brandeis University 65th commencement.  In 2014, Black Enterprise magazine awarded Richardson its 2014 Legacy Award, its highest recognition of women’s achievement. That same year, Richardson was profiled in American Masters: The Boomer List, a PBS documentary and exhibition at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. She is a 2021 recipient of the Chicago History Museum’s John Hope Franklin Making History Award, which celebrates prominent Chicagoans who have made the city a better place to live. Published in July 2022, her TedTalk “The Mission to Safeguard Black History in the U.S.” is viewable on YouTube.