Governor Taps NCCU Professor to Head African-American Panel

Dr. Freddie L. Parker, professor, former chair and current interim chair of the History Department at North Carolina Central University, has been appointed chairman of the state’s African-American Heritage Commission by Governor Bev Perdue.

Parker joined the commission when it was created two years ago. Established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2008, the commission advises and assists the state Secretary of Cultural Resources in the preservation, interpretation and promotion of African-American history, arts and culture. Parker replaces Harry Harrison of Asheville.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Parker take on this important leadership role for the commission and for the people of North Carolina, as we are in a critical and exciting stage of development,” said Michelle Lanier, acting director of the commission.

It is the first panel in North Carolina dedicated to African-American heritage and history. The commission’s duties, established in the legislation, include:

  • Promoting public awareness of historic buildings, sites, structures, artwork and culture associated with African-American heritage through special programs, exhibits and publications;
  • Supporting African-American heritage education in elementary and secondary schools in coordination with state’s public schools;
  • Building a statewide network of individuals and groups interested in the preservation of African-American history, arts and culture; and
  • Developing a program to catalog, preserve, assess and interpret all aspects of African-American history, arts and culture.

An NCCU alumnus, Parker has lent his time to a number of organizations related to history. He is past chairman of the North Carolina Historical Highway Marker Commission and currently is chairman of the African American History Project Advisory Board at Tryon Palace in New Bern. Last fall, he was elected vice-president of the Historical Society of North Carolina and will become its president this year.

In January, Parker won entry into the North Caroliniana Society, a nonprofit group that selects as members North Carolinians who meet the strict criterion of “adjudged performance” in service to the state’s heritage.

Parker received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from NCCU in 1975 and 1977 respectively, and the Ph.D. in American History from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1987. He is the author of “Running for Freedom: Slave Runaways in NC, 1775-1840,” and “Stealing a Little Freedom: Advertisements for Slave Runaways in NC, 1791-1840.”

The Department of Cultural Resources is the state agency that protects and promotes North Carolina’s arts, heritage and culture.