Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Host Reception for Charleston Area HistoryMakers

On Wednesday, October 3, 2018, for the first time in its eighteen-year history,The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive, paid homage to Charleston area HistoryMakers in a reception at the historic Harbour Club.

The co-hosts for this reception, HistoryMaker and business executive Brenda Lauderback and education consultant Kim Cliett Long, worked closely over the past months as organizers. “We are thrilled by what the host committee helped make possible. They helped guide our work here and we owe them an eternal debt of gratitude,” states Founder and President Julieanna Richardson.

Those being honored include former university president newspaper publishing executive Melvin Hart, Minister Joseph Darby, painter Jonathan Green, The Honorable Lucille Whipper, and cultural heritage chief executive Emory Campbell. Those previously interviewed include the late State Senator Herbert Fielding, architect Herbert DeCosta, Jr., and blacksmith Philip Simmons.  The invite-only guest list include area business, civic, and community leaders.

In addition to a presentation about The HistoryMakers, Founder and President Julieanna Richardson issued a call to action to those in attendance addressing the lack of preservation of African American materials and the role that plays in society. The HistoryMakers seeks partnerships with area K-12 schools, colleges and universities, cultural institutions, organizations, and the media. While in the region, The HistoryMakers met with Rev. DeMett Jenkins of the International African American Museum as well as the College of Charleston’s Library staff.  “We also went to Charleston in hopes of having Charleston Southern University, College of Charleston, University of Charleston, The Citadel, Virginia College of Charleston, the International African American Museum, and Charleston County Public Library become part of The HistoryMakers Digital Archive subscribing family. They would join the fifty other institutions like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, Emory, Northwestern, Ohio State, Chicago Public Library, Milwaukee Public Library, and New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture that have done so,” states The HistoryMakers Founder & President Julieanna Richardson, a graduate of Harvard Law School.

The HistoryMakers, a 501(c) (3) national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, is dedicated to recording and preserving the personal histories of well-known and unsung African Americans. It is the largest video oral history archive of its kind, and the only massive attempt, since the WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930s, to record the African American experience by the first voice. In 2014, the Library of Congress became its permanent repository. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden states, “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.”

The HistoryMakers Collection now numbers over 10,000 hours (3,100 interviews) of first person testimony recorded in over 413 cities and towns including international locations like Norway, the Caribbean, and Mexico. The earliest memory in the collection dates back to the 1700s. The HistoryMakers wants to help elevate the black experience in Charleston’s archives as well as ensure that Charleston’s African American history is properly represented in this internationally significant Collection. In order to do so, other prominent African American Charleston and other South Carolina leaders will be interviewed for inclusion in the Collection once appropriate funding is secured.

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