Akron Deputy Mayor Marco Sommerville Interviewed by HistoryMakers
Akron, Ohio, Nov. 13, 2023 — Recently, Akron Deputy Mayor Marco Sommerville was interviewed by The HistoryMakers, which is known as the digital repository of the Black Experience. HistoryMakers (www.thehistorymakers.org) is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational institution. With the Library of Congress serving as their official repository, The HistoryMakers collection has grown to over 11,000 hours of testimony.
“I’m proud to congratulate my friend and colleague Marco Sommerville on this well-deserved recognition,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Marco has been a dedicated public servant to the Akron community for decades and his record speaks for itself. To receive an honor like this from the HistoryMakers is yet another accomplishment to add to his long list of hard-earned achievements.”
“I want to thank the HistoryMakers for this incredible honor,” said Deputy Mayor Sommerville. “I’ve watched many of the interviews they’ve done over the years with some of the greatest minds of the Black community and to be included in that outstanding group of individuals is such a privilege for me. Adding my experience as a Black leader in my city to the archives is a really proud moment for me and I can’t wait to share that interview with everyone when it’s available.”
The HistoryMakers’ mission is to educate and to better document the vastness of the Black experience. They have interviewed almost 3,600 African American leaders across a variety of disciplines – including the arts, business, civic engagement, education, entertainment, and more– in over 450 U.S. cities and towns. Mr. Sommerville joins a long and prestigious list of interviewees including General Colin Powell; actors James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad; Motown founder Berry Gordy; comedian Whoopi Goldberg; poet Maya Angelou; music producer Quincy Jones; and Congressman John Lewis; 211 of the nation’s top scientists including Katherine G. Johnson of Hidden Figures fame; and former President Barack Obama. He also becomes just the latest Akronite to be interviewed, joining others including Sylvester Small, Art Minson, Judge Joseph D. Roulhac, the honorable Dorothy Jackson, Janet Purnell, and others.
With recollections referencing people and events dating back to the 1700s, the archive includes thousands of subjects including business, technology, the Great Migration, foodways, poetry, The Black Arts Movement, funeral rites, public health, modern music, and so many others. Moreover, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive provides users with access to these first-person accounts from desktop, portable devices, and smartphones 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, anywhere in the world.
Currently, 2,700 of the 3,400 interviews within the collection are available on The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Due to delays caused by both limited resources and the pandemic, they are experiencing a processing backlog. Though his interview will not become available on The HistoryMakers Digital Archive until 2025, Marco’s profile will be listed on their website, and he will be provided with his own copy of the interview. An additional copy of the interview will also be sent immediately to the Library of Congress’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, where their collection is housed.
Marco Sommerville Bio
Marco Sommerville has been a public servant and business owner for more than a quarter of a century. His first political experience was working on Jesse Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign. Three years later, in 1986, he ran for his first political office and was elected to serve as the Council Representative for Ward 3. In 2000, his peers elected him as Akron City Council President. He served as both President and Ward 3 Council Representative until the end of 2012, when he resigned to accept his appointment as Akron's Planning Director. When Mayor Horrigan took office in 2016, he appointed Sommerville as Deputy Mayor for Intergovernmental Affairs and Senior Advisor to the Mayor, positions he still holds.
Throughout his political career, Sommerville also owned and operated Sommerville Funeral Services, which he founded in 1978. He turned the business over to his daughter, Margo, when he accepted the Planning Director's position.
Marco has long served on a variety of boards and on a number of organizations across the community. He is a member of the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau’s board of trustees, Municipal Director of the Summit County Land Bank, past president of the board of trustees of Downtown Akron Partnership, and past president of the Akron Chapter of the NAACP. He is also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Mt. Calvary Prince Hall Masonic Temple and a 33rd Degree Mason, ALKAF Temple 109, and the People’s Baptist Church in Akron.
He was the first African American elected to the Summit County Board of Elections and the first African American Chairman of the Board of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority.
Marco and his wife, Debra, have three children, and proudly proclaim that each is a graduate of a Historically Black College or University: Bennett College, Morehouse College, and Lincoln University. His daughter, Margo, now serves as Akron’s Ward 3 Council Representative, President of Council, and Funeral Director at Sommerville Funeral Home. His daughter, Shayla, is a Program Manager at Google. His son, Marco II, serves as the Senior Vice-President at Citibank in New York City. Marco also has three beautiful, talented granddaughters: Kendall, Peyton, and Ava who make all the hard work worthwhile.