Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The HistoryMakers Launches its WomanMakers Initiative with a $1 Million Gift from Former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns

Left to Right: Darren Walker, President of The Ford Foundation; Ursula Burns, Retired Xerox CEO and current VEON CEO; Julieanna Richardson, Founder and President of The HistoryMakers (Photo Credit: Rowena Husbands)

*Julieanna Richardson, Founder and President of The HistoryMakers, launched The WomanMakers Initiative and Advisory Board at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice overlooking the East River in New York City on January 31.

The inaugural luncheon and convening included more than 100 distinguished African American female leaders from the worlds of the arts, business, education, civics, law, science, medicine, the military, entertainment, sports, music, the media, politics, religion, and fashion and beauty.

Hosted by Darren Walker, the President of the Ford Foundation, the luncheon was attended by New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray, the Honorable Valerie Jarrett, and businesswoman and philanthropist Loida Lewis. Also in attendance were members of The WomanMakers Advisory Committee, including Dr. Wanda M. Austin, former CEO of the Aerospace Corporation; Chaz Ebert, television and film producer and publisher; Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the 15th U.S. Surgeon General; Andrea Frazier, philanthropist and interior designer; Thelma Golden, museum director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Bethann Hardison, fashion activist and consultant; Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Cheryl Boone Isaacs, former President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences; Michele S. Jones, the 9th Command Sgt. Maj. of U.S. Army Reserve; Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater; Carla Harris, Investment banker; Susan L. Taylor, former Essence magazine editor and CEO of National CARES Mentoring; and womanist professors and scholars Paula J. Giddings of  Smith College, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall of Spelman College.

Julieanna Richardson, Founder and President of The HistoryMakers; Chirlane McCray, New York City First Lady and WomanMakers Advisory Committee Member; and the Honorable Valerie Jarrett (Photo Credit: Rowena Husbands)

During the luncheon, Ursula Burns, retired Xerox CEO and current VEON CEO presented Julieanna Richardson with a $1 million check for its new WomanMakers initiative. Made in honor of her late husband, Lloyd F. Bean, retired Xerox scientist and inventor, Burns’ groundbreaking gift will allow the addition of 180 interviews of leading African American women to The HistoryMakers Collection, which currently has 800 fewer women than men included in its collection. The HistoryMakers Collection is housed permanently in the Library of Congress.

Members of The HistoryMakers’ WomanMakers Advisory Committee (Photo Credit: Rowena Husbands)

Burns said, “The HistoryMakers has been at the forefront of recording the history of African Americans for many years. We must continue to support their efforts and help provide the resources to ensure that the legacy of black women is preserved and presented with truth, honor, and integrity.”

To the group in attendance, Richardson emphasized the crisis and urgency of preserving the Black historical record. “African American history and culture is at a critical crossroads. We are at risk of losing 20th-century documentation within ten to fifteen years. Burns’ million-dollar gift has made it possible for us to move forward with the selection process to secure many significant interviews with black women. We are profoundly grateful to Ursula for her belief and support of us.”

Burns was the first African American woman to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 company when she rose from a Xerox intern to its CEO. Burns serves as chair of The WomanMakers Advisory Board along with its Honorary Chair Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Chair and President of the National Council of Negro Women.

For more information on The HistoryMakers, click HERE. To view The HistoryMakers archive, click HERE.


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