Common arrives at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. (Sept.19, 2011)

*Five hundred African American trailblazers will descend upon classrooms in 107 cities and 34 states (including Puerto Rico) on Friday, Sept. 23 as part of the 2nd Annual Back to School with the HistoryMakers program, reports the NNPA.

The one-day program aims to bring renewed attention to the needs of the nation’s educational system and its students.

This year’s participants include: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Valerie B. Jarrett, former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, entertainer and author Common, activist and talk show host the Rev. Al Sharpton, political commentator and talk show host Roland Martin, singer/actress Melba Moore, Broadway choreographer George Faison, poet Nikki Giovanni, actress Marla Gibbs, actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, poet/author Sonia Sanchez and author/filmmaker Antwone Fisher.

Notable African Americans will recount their own school experiences and the struggles they encountered on their paths to success. The theme of the day is “COMMIT,” and the goal of the program is to put black leaders in direct and sustained contact with young people in schools all across the nation, while encouraging youth to commit to excellence, to learning their history and to achieving beyond what they think is possible.

The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African-American video oral history archive, consists of 2,000 videotaped personal histories of both well-known and unsung African Americans. Subjects include President Barack Obama, General Colin Powell, Marion Wright Edelman and the oldest living black cowboy, Alonzo Pettie, co-founder of Colorado’s first Black rodeo.

For more information, visit www.thehistorymakers.com or The HistoryMakers digital archive at www.idvl.org/thehistorymakers/.