Today, Governor Roy Cooper recognized and thanked North Carolinians who preserve African American heritage and culture.

“Our celebration of African American culture and heritage would not be possible without the work of those who preserve the stories, memories, and contributions of African Americans,” said Gov. Cooper. “They have kept this history and these traditions alive despite decades, and centuries, of African American history being relegated to the sidelines. But often, their work to keep this history alive goes unsung. So this year, we honor the keepers of our state’s rich, African American culture.”

North Carolina’s African American Heritage Commission identified 15 historians, curators, artists and others whose work is keeping this history and culture alive for future generations. Gov. Cooper today presented those North Carolinians with the Old North State Award during a reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

The award winners include:

  • Dr. E. B. Palmer, a cultural historian, curator, and public historian from Raleigh.
  • Beverly Burnette, the President of the North Carolina Black Storyteller’s Association from Raleigh.
  • Wanda Hunt McLean, an Underground Railroad historian from Elizabeth City.
  • Mike Wiley, a theatrical documentarian from Hillsborough who founded a production company to bring to light African American history.
  • Courtney Reid-Eaton, a curator from Durham who focuses on presenting more work by diverse artists.
  • Zena Howard, an architect from Durham who helped design the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
  • Phil Freelon, an internationally-recognized architect from Durham who led the design team for the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
  • Darin Waters, a specialist in Appalachian African Americans from Asheville.
  • Dr. Ben Speller, the first North Carolina Central University Dean of Library Sciences, former archivist and long-term preservationist from Edenton.
  • Jereann King Johnson, a textile and cultural heritage specialist from Warren County.
  • Lamar Deloatch, the President of the Afro-American Genealogical Society from Greensboro.
  • Charles Farrar, a fine arts woodworker from Charlotte.
  • Justin Robinson, a Grammy award-winning musician and vocalist and cultural preservationist from Durham.
  • Dot Redford, a former site manager of Somerset Place and public historian from Creswell.
  • Sheri Holmes, the director of Triangle Friends of African American Arts from Durham.