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The HistoryMakers recently announced that the Enterprise Holdings Foundation – the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings – has awarded $600,000 to the group to help raise the profile and public understanding of African-American achievement in business. The grant will help develop the most comprehensive video recording of the lives, careers, and accomplishments of African-American business leaders.
“We are thrilled that the Enterprise Holdings Foundation has chosen to support our work in this way,” said Julieanna Richardson, founder and president of The HistoryMakers. “Because of this generous gift, The HistoryMakers will be able to begin the process of creating the definitive recording of African-American business leaders.”
Richardson added that the contribution was in response to a 9 to 1 challenge grant from Dorothy Terrell, former president of Sun Microsystems. The HistoryMakers had set a $1 million goal to establish the “BusinessMakers” segment on its online portal.
The HistoryMakers BusinessMakers category currently includes the interviews of over 300 business leaders in 81 cities and towns. Some of those already featured in the category include recently retired American Express CEO Ken Chenault; Merck & Co., Inc. CEO Ken Frazier; Johnson Publishing founder John H. Johnson; former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns; Motown founder Berry Gordy and RadioOne founder Cathy Hughes, among others.
“The Enterprise Holdings Foundation is proud to help The HistoryMakers tell the untold stories of both well-known and unsung African-Americans in business,” said Carolyn Kindle Betz, senior vice president and executive director of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation. “This initiative is a terrific way to recognize African-American business leaders of the past, while encouraging future leaders of tomorrow.”
Over the next two to three years, according to Richardson, The HistoryMakers will focus on adding 150 additional interviews of noted African-American business leaders to its collection – increasing its BusinessMakers category to 500. Currently, the history of African Americans in business make up less than one percent of Harvard Business School case studies, and there are no dedicated exhibits or collection of African-American business leaders in any of the nation’s repositories.
“It is critical to show the world that African-Americans have had an active role to play in both entrepreneurship and in corporate America,” said Richardson. “This story has been overlooked for far too long and deserves to be highlighted.”
The HistoryMakers, a 501 (c) (3) national nonprofit organization based in Chicago, 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 the permanent repository of the collection. The HistoryMakers Collection now numbers over 10,000 hours (3,200 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 to the 1700s.
The Enterprise Holdings Foundation contributes to thousands of local nonprofits every year, with a special focus on community improvement, education and environmental stewardship. The Foundation was established in 1982 as a way to give back to the communities that drove Enterprise’s growth and success.