Sculptor and painter James Earl Reid remembers his first experience with drawing. “My earliest experience with drawing was witnessing my mother draw for kids in the projects,” he said. “She would sit down and draw the project houses that we lived in. And I saw coming out of that, magic.”

As Reid told The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive, “drawing, experiencing drawing, and beginning to see the world in the eyes of an artist was magic.” Today, Reid is a renowned artist. In the late 1970s, he received his first commission from the City of Baltimore. His resulting work, the Billie Holiday Statue, stands at the corner of Lafayette and Pennsylvania avenues.

On Sept 26 and Sept. 27, students in Baltimore, Prince George’s County and other Maryland schools will hear Reid; Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, (D-Balto. County); former Morgan State University President Earl S. Richardson; Rev. Frances M. Draper, pastor of Freedom Temple AME Zion Church; and others as they join hundreds of African-American HistoryMakers across the nation for the 4th annual Back to School With The HistoryMakers program to commit to excellence and finishing their education.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is chairing the nationwide effort with the goal of having more than 500 Black leaders go “back to school” in 68 cities in 30 states. The program puts HistoryMakers in direct contact with over 25,000 students across the nation to inspire them with their life stories and to encourage youth to strive for excellence.

The theme of the day is “COMMIT.” The HistoryMakers will recount their own school experiences and the struggles they encountered on their paths to success.

HistoryMakers Founder and Executive Director Julieanna 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 310 HistoryMakers.

Among the HistoryMakers participating that day in schools: Reid will visit Robert Goddard French Immersion School in Greenbelt, Md., on Sept. 26.

Nathan-Pulliam, the first registered nurse elected to the Maryland General Assembly, will visit Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy in West Baltimore on Sept. 27.

Frederick Oliver served as the chair of the physics department at Morgan State University for over 20 years and has held research appointments at facilities such as NASA, will also visit Blueford Drew Jemison on Sept. 27.

Richardson will visit Annapolis High School in Annapolis on Sept. 27.
Leon Bridges formed his own firm, Leon Bridges AIA, in 1963, and became the first registered African American architect in Maryland. He will visit Kipp Ujima Village Academy in Baltimore on Sept. 27.

Last year’s successful Back to School With The HistoryMakers program sent nearly 500 HistoryMakers into schools in 77 cities and 35 states, including “Bloody Sunday” civil rights pioneer Amelia Boynton Robinson, then 102.

For more information, visit The HistoryMakers website at