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The idea was a simple one: take those who have blazed a path to success and get them to share their stories of triumph, failure and perseverance with those whose steps are still being decided.

So began the "Back to School With the HistoryMakers" program, which takes black trailblazers from all facets of professional life and puts them inside high schools around the country so that students can hear their testimonies.

Spearheaded by HistoryMakers, a Chicago-based nonprofit, and chaired by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the program, now in its sixth year, will put more than 400 black leaders in 67 cities and 32 states Friday.

"The program puts HistoryMakers in direct contact with over 25,000 students in 200 schools across the nation, to inspire them with their life's stories and to encourage youth to strive for excellence," according to a statement.

Some of the scheduled guests include investment executive and civil rights leader Ernest Green, who was also one of the Little Rock Nine; PBS executive Jennifer Lawson; and A'Lelia Bundles, who is the chair and president of the Foundation for the National Archives.


Cora Masters Barry, the widow of former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry, will be visiting Ballou High School in D.C., which will soon be renamed after Barry in honor of the mayor's work with the community.

"By bringing these living leaders into today's educational system, we are raising awareness about the achievements of the accomplished African Americans in local communities and providing important role models for today's youth," historian and library director Howard Dodson said in a statement.