In his address to the nation on Thursday, President Obama called for a bill to revitalize community colleges, stating that “in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job.” According to a study by the Schott Foundation, however, only 47% of African American males graduate high school. Blocking their success and that of young black females is a plethora of issues from poverty (August 2011 Annie E. Casey Foundation study on poverty showing that Black children were twice as likely as white children to have an unemployed parent); to violence (youth shootings in Chicago); to poor school choices (brought to national headlines when Kelley Williams-Bolar, a black mother, was jailed on felony charges in Ohio for trying to get her children into a better, safer school).
In a massive show of support on Friday, September 23rd, 500 Black leaders and luminaries–including Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Valerie B. Jarrett, former Ambassador Andrew Young, poet Nikki Giovanni, and entertainer and author Common–will converge on schools across the country. They will recount their own school experiences and the struggles they encountered on their paths to success in an effort to inspire young people to reach the highest levels of achievement. The day-long event, the 2nd annual Back to School with The HistoryMakers, is being presented by The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African-American video oral history archive; the collection consists of 2,000 videotaped personal histories of both well-known and unsung Africa n Americans.