Today is the day that the History Makers go to school. The History Makers is a Chicago-based repository of interviews with African-Americans who made a difference, and many of those who are still alive will be visiting schools around the country today as part of the third annual Back to School with the History Makers program.

Schools in Chicago, Decatur, Olympia Fields, South Holland and Springfield will be visited by history makers.

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Howard Brookins Sr. will visit two schools in Springfield. He says it’s important for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to meet those who’ve been successful. “If you see just an engineer or a doctor, that gives you something to say I can do that, or I can be that. And I think that’s what this program will encourage young folks to do, and that’s what I’m hoping,” he said.

Brookins wants the kids to learn that upstanding citizens who aren’t famous in sports or entertainment are worthy of respect in the community. He calls them the superstars.

Brookins, a funeral director, served in the General Assembly from 1983-93, but he says at the time, he didn’t get to familiarize himself with the community in Springfield.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/