The Newark native was featured on CBS News' "60 Minutes" on her work documenting the oral history of black Americans, and shared her experience of not knowing more about black history in her hometown.
Juliana Richardson, who grew up in Newark, founded The HistoryMakers, a national nonprofit research and education organization "dedicated to preserving and sharing widely the untold and untold personal stories of African Americans," according to its website. ."
In an interview released Sunday, Richardson said that at age 9, she was the only black student in her class. She says she never learned anything about black American history in school, which she says is normal.
All she knew about black history was that her great-grandfather was an addict. As a child, she wondered what she might have learned about black history in Newark.
“I mean, there was a dark history in my town that got away from me. In the interview, there was a man named Shackleford who sat down with a gun and tried to destroy a white community school for black children.
Richardson was also the fifth president of Liberia, Edward James Roy, born in 1815 in Newark, Ohio.
"I don't think black history exists, but it was all around me. And that's what kids do — it's all around them, but they don't know it. It doesn't touch them, so they can't aspire to be what they don't see," she says.
Over the past 20 years, Chicago-based Richardson Associates has interviewed more than 3,500 people to document first-hand accounts of the experiences of people of color in America.
She interviewed Anita Hill, who testified against Clarence Thomas during her confirmation hearing for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. Tuskegee Airmen, Col. Bill Thompson; Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice; and Illinois State Senator Barack Obama in 2001.
For Richardson, these are America's missing stories.
"American history would not be complete without him," she said in an interview.
Since 2012, the HistoryMarkers archive has been maintained at the Library of Congress. The charity has launched a curriculum in schools in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Charlotte, unlike Richardson, to allow young students to learn about the diversity and rich history of black people.
"It's so easy to see what we've been through and how we've persevered and it shows how strong we are," said Lauren Rounded, a black student from near Chicago who used the program.
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Newark native's work to protect black history Featured on '60 Minutes'