Governor Cooper Honors African American Education Leaders During Black History Month

Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper today honored Black History Month by recognizing African American education leaders from across the state for their many accomplishments that have helped move North Carolina forward and left a positive impact on students.

“Today we recognize and celebrate North Carolina’s African American leaders in education, and I am grateful for their contributions to our state,” said Gov. Cooper. “Their leadership is particularly important right now as we work to improve diversity in the teaching profession to help our students succeed.”

Earlier this month, Governor Cooper proclaimed February as Black History Month in North Carolina.

Today’s event was hosted by the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Attendees included Susi H. Hamilton, Secretary, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson, Chair, N.C. African American Heritage Commission; and Tracey Burns, Asst. Secretary for Diversity and Cultural Inclusion, DNCR.

 In December of 2019, Governor Cooper announced Executive Order No. 113, which established a Task Force focused on equity and inclusion in education. At the DRIVE Summit: Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education, Governor Cooper highlighted the importance of having a diverse teacher workforce and the positive impacts on students’ performance in the classroom. To learn more about the Task Force, click HERE.

Honorees at the event included:

  • Dr. Carolyn Anderson – First full-time African American faculty member at Appalachian State University
  • Dr. Robert "Bob" Bridges – First black Superintendent of Wake County
  • Dr. Valerie Bridges – First woman Superintendent of Edgecombe County Schools
  • Wanda Kay Brown – Director of C. G. O’Kelley Library at Winston-Salem State University and current president of the American Library Association
  • Melody Chalmers – 2016 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year
  • James "Jimmy" Clark – First black Superintendent of Halifax County
  • Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole – Educator, anthropologist, and historian; president of Bennett College 2002-2007
  • Hon. Frances Cummings – Former teacher, public school administrator, North Carolina legislator, NCAE Associate Executive Director and President
  • Everlene Davis – Nationally certified educator with over 60 years of teaching experience in Columbus County
  • Dr. Dudley Flood – Statewide education leader and K-12 educator, coach, and principal
  • James E. Ford – 2014 - 2015 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, member of the N.C. State Board of Education, Executive Director of the Center for Racial Equity in Education, Carnegie Fellow and 2014 National Alliance of Black Educator’s Teacher of the Year
  • Bernard Fuller – 2016-2017 recipient of the National Association of Special Education Teachers Outstanding Special Education Teacher Award
  • Angela Pringle Hairston – First black Superintendent of Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools
  • Guy Hill – Long-time, award-winning Harnett County educator, former President of the NC English Teachers Association
  • Naomi Geraldine "Gerry" House – First female black superintendent in North Carolina
  • September Krueger – Award-winning artist based in Wilmington; heads the art department at Southeastern Community College in Whiteville
  • Hortense McClinton – First African American faculty member at UNC and a pioneering social worker
  • Dr. Steve M. Lassiter, Jr. – 2015 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year and 2015 National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • Dr. Constance A. Lindsay – Research Associate at the Urban Institute and Assistant Professor at UNC – Chapel Hill
  • Alfred M. Mays – Program Officer for the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, focusing on science education and diversity in science
  • Willis McLeod – First black Superintendent of Northampton County
  • Dr. Freddie Parker – Professor of History at NCCU for over 40 years; established the NCCU Public History program in 2007
  • Turquoise Parker – Third-generation, third grade teacher and strong advocate for student and teacher rights
  • Willie Peele – Former Martin County Schools Superintendent; advocate for juvenile crime prevention
  • Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin – 2019 recipient of the NCASCD Dr. Frances Jones Trailblazer award; Executive Director of NCASCD for 21 years; former Deputy State Superintendent
  • Dr. Randolph Sessoms – First black Superintendent for Wilson County Schools
  • Antoine Sharpe – First African American man to be recognized as the Dept. of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Teacher of the Year
  • Julius Walker – Retired Superintendent of Washington County Schools; member Washington County Board of Commissioners
  • Dr. Vanessa Siddle Walker – Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African American and Educational Studies at Emory University
  • Tabari Wallace – Principal in Craven County; State Board of Education; 2018 NC Principal of the Year
  • Lisa Williams – 2016 Fort Bragg District DoDEA Teacher of the Year
  • Oliver Holley – Superintendent of Tyrrell County Schools; serves on the North Carolina Teacher and State Employee Retirement Commission Board of Trustees
  • Dr. Shanita Wooten – the first black, first female, and youngest superintendent, Robeson County Schools
  • Dr. Betty Howell Gray – Founded the North Carolina affiliate of the National Association of Black School Educators
  • Bill McNeal – Superintendent of Wake County Public Schools from 2000 – 2006; served as the executive director of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators
  • Dr. Maya Angelou – Renowned educator, activist, poet, author, film director, singer, and dancer
  • Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown – Prominent educator, advocate for social justice, speaker, author, and suffragist. Founded Palmer Memorial Institute, an elite boarding school for African Americans in Sedalia, North Carolina, and served as its first President from 1902-1952.
  • Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper – 19th century educator, author, activist, speaker, sociologist, scholar, and Black feminist; first African American woman to receive a doctorate degree in the District of Columbia and the fourth to do so nationally
  • Blyden Jackson – First African American tenured faculty member at a primarily white institution in the southeast; pioneered UNC’s African American Studies program.
  • Roberta Jackson – First African American tenure-track faculty member in UNC’s School of Education
  • Ruth Braswell Jones – First African American woman to serve as president of NCTA and NCAE; first African American woman to serve on the NEA board.
  • Elizabeth Duncan Koontz – First African American president of the NEA. Established the Human and Civil Rights Division of the NEA
  • Dr. Willa Player –First African American woman to serve as the president of an accredited four-year college in the United States (at Bennett College)

To learn about ways North Carolina is honoring Black History Month, click HERE.

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