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Fort Lauderdale African American leaders go ‘Back to School’ to give back in volunteer day of service

FORT-LAUDERDALE-AFRICAN-AMEFort Lauderdale African American leaders go ‘Back to School’ to give back in volunteer day of service

CHICAGO, ILL. – What does service mean in the African American community? For interior designer Cecil Hayes, it means using her talents as an African American interior designer to attract clients world-wide that include entertainers, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders.

On Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, she will join hundreds of other African American History-Makers across the nation for a day of service during the Fifth Annual Back to School with The HistoryMakers program, as they return to classrooms to encourage students to COMMIT to excellence and finishing their education.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is chairing the nation-wide effort with the goal of having more than 400 Black leaders go “Back to School” in 61 cities and 30 states. The program puts HistoryMakers in direct contact with over 25,000 students across the nation, to inspire them with their life’s stories and to encourage youth to strive for excellence.

The theme of the day is “Commit”. The HistoryMakers will personally recount their own school experiences, reflect upon the struggles they en-countered on their paths to success and, most importantly, encourage students to commit to their education.

“It makes a difference to hear a message of positive choices from successful, caring adults whom the students can relate to,” says a teacher from the program. The HistoryMakers Founder and Executive Director, Julieanna Richardson, states, “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. ”

Richardson is encouraging educators everywhere to use The HistoryMakers’ 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 extensive and easy-to-access interviews with over 700 HistoryMakers. In addition to providing schools with access to this unique educational tool, Back to School With The HistoryMakers is also taking a crucial step towards transforming the nation’s political and social landscape, according to Richardson.

“It is important that the community talks; intergenerational dialogue is important, because something has been lost,” says Richardson. “Students should see role models and understand their stories, or else there will be more Missouris.”


Among the HistoryMakers participating that day:

    Cecil Hayes is an interior designer and founder of Cecil’s Designs Unlimited. Her clientele includes Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Derek Brown and Penny Hardaway.

Her works have been featured in Ebony, Florida Design and the Miami Herald. Hayes garnered the African American Achievement Award in 2002; the Distinguished Designer of the Year Award from the Designers and Decorators Guild.

In 1996, she was chosen as one of the Top Female Interior Designers in South Florida. Hayes is recognized by Who’s Who in Interior Design. She will go back to Blanche Ely High School and Dillard High School.

Last year’s successful Back to School With The HistoryMakers program sent over 300 of such role models to  schools in 61 cities and 30 states, including stage and television actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymah, stage and television actor the late James Avery, and singer Otis Williams. Many of the HistoryMakers have now adopted a school, one of the goals of the initiative.

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. It was announced this year by James Billington, the Librarian of Congress that the Library of Congress will serve as the permanent repository for The HistoryMakers Collection. Added Billington, “The HistoryMakers archive provides invaluable first-person accounts of both well-known and unsung African Americans, detailing their hopes, dreams and accomplishments—often in the face of adversity. This culturally important collection is a rich and diverse resource for scholars, teachers, students and documentarians seeking a more complete record of our nation’s history and its people.” To date, the organization has interviewed over 2,000 HistoryMakers, with the goal of creating an archive of 5,000 interviews (30,000 hours) for the establishment of a one-of-a-kind digital archive.

For more information, visit The HistoryMakers website at, and
The HistoryMakers Education page at Follow The HistoryMakers on Facebook and Twitter.




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