An Evening with the History Makers—10th Anniversary Gala

By Edith McCauley

Saturday, Nov. 20, we were privileged to be a part of the celebration honoring the African-American community and the commitment to be an essential part of this project now in its 10th year. Founder  Julieanna Richardson’s determination to videotape interviews, thereby collecting thousands of oral histories and preserving them as a valuable contribution to future generations, encourages the young people of today to recognize those who have so influenced their lives.

Julian Swain was interviewed several years ago, and his story can be found on History Makers website. As one of the honored guests, we were privileged to meet new friends and old. The evening began in the reconstructed Board Room of the old Chicago Board of Trade building, and later the special guests appeared in the Rubloff Auditorium. Included in the program were Nikki Giovanni, world-renowned poet; Denyce Graves, operatic diva; Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of Radio One, Inc.; Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent for The NewsHour; Dwayne Lee, “Gospel Balladeer”; Roland S. Martin, syndicated columnist; Melba Moore, musical star, well known for her portrayal of “Lutiebelle” in Purlie; Rev. Al Sharpton, renowned civil rights activist; Susan L. Taylor, founder of National CARES Mentoring Movement; and international musical legend Dionne Warwick.

The evening was filled with honorees, and especially impressive were the young people who are committing their lives as volunteers to every aspect of History Makers. Roland Martin stood on stage with them as the audience gave a standing ovation. The music of Dionne Warwick and Melba Moore recalled the times we have been privileged to see them, and Nikki Giovanni’s poetry tells the stories of women living in today’s world.

While we were at the reception, a young woman entered the room with a German shepherd. I was a bit puzzled until another guest informed me that honoree Attorney General Eric Holder was due to arrive with his entourage of secret service. Naturally, a bomb-sniffing dog was necessary. So much for the excitement. The list of History Makers includes those who have contributed to every aspect of our society, including President Barack Obama. Margaret Burroughs was a part of Julian’s artistic beginnings. It was at her Art Center on the South Side that he first began his career in dance. She just died at 93, and her life represents so well all of the History Makers. We do want to thank all those who were so helpful and made the entire evening such a success.

From the Nov. 24-30, 2010 issue

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