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North Carolina Freedom Park: Celebrating Freedom and the African American Experience

March 28 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | Program 7pm – 8 pm, followed by Q & A

Whitted Building, 300 W Tryon St, Hillsborough, NC

Envision an inspiring, 45-foot-tall, illuminated sculpture reaching towards the sky from the center of downtown Raleigh – a “Beacon of Freedom,” the centerpiece of North Carolina Freedom Park – a one-acre park that honors the African American experience and struggle for freedom in North Carolina. Join the Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition on Tues., March 28th at 7 pm in Hillsborough to learn about this new landmark currently being constructed in North Carolina’s Capital.

An idea conceived 20 years ago by the Paul Green Foundation, North Carolina Freedom Park is based on the visionary design of the late Phil Freelon (renowned architect of Washington DC’s Museum of African American History & Culture), and will include 20 inspirational quotes from North Carolina leaders (the “Voices of Freedom”) artfully inscribed along the walls of five walkways leading to the Beacon. A concept benefiting from the wisdom of the late Dr. John Hope Franklin (who served as the founding chair of the Freedom Park Advisory Board), and with the support of the Mellon Foundation’s “Monuments Project,” Freedom Park is being constructed by the socially conscious Holt Brothers Construction Company.

All are invited to join us on Tuesday, March 28th to learn about Freedom Park’s inspiration, purpose, and development, as well as how the Park will inspire and benefit all North Carolinians.


  • Marsha Warren, past director of the Paul Green Foundation and a N. C. Literary Hall of Fame inductee, will share the remarkable story of the project’s development
  • Reginald Hildebrand, retired professor of African American Studies & History at UNC Chapel Hill, will speak about the message, meaning, and significance of Freedom Park for all North Carolinians
  • Reginald Hodges, former Director of the Durham Literacy Center and expert on African art, will provide an illustrated discussion of the actual construction of Freedom Park.
  • Moderated by James E. Williams, Jr., co-founder & co-chair of the Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition

The presentations will last from 7 pm – 8 pm and will be followed by a question and answer period.  This IN-PERSON program is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested, but not required. Streaming will not be available.




Presenter Bios

Reginald F. Hildebrand was a Professor of African American Studies and History at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  After retiring from UNC, he served for three years as an adjunct instructor of history at Durham Technical  Community College.  He is author of THE TIMES WERE STRANGE AND STIRRING: METHODIST PREACHERS AND THE CRISIS OF EMANCIPATION (Duke University Press, 1995), and is currently working on a book with the working title, “Troubling the Prevailing Narratives: The Emancipation Proclamation,  Lincoln, Carpenter, Greeley, and Gradualism.” In 2012 he was chosen to receive the Tanner Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at UNC – Chapel Hill.  He is a former co-chair of the North Carolina Freedom Monument Project, a former trustee of the North Carolina Humanities Council.  In addition, he has served as a member of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, and as a member of the Advisory Board for the North Carolina Historical Review.  In 2018, he served as a member of the Historic Civil Rights Commemorations Task Force of the Town of Chapel Hill. 

Marsha White Warren served as Director of the Paul Green Foundation from 1991-2021. From 1987 to 1996, she was Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network where she and Sam Ragan developed the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1996, located in James Boyd’s former study at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines. Throughout her tenure as an advocate of the literary arts community, she has served on numerous state and national organizations, and edited five books of poetry including Collected Poems of Sam Ragan: Poet Laureate of North Carolina. Her honors include: John Tyler Caldwell Laureate Award for the Humanities, Sam Ragan Award for Contributions to the Fine Arts, Honorary Doctor of Letters from St. Andrews College, R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award for Lifetime Contributions to Literature and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame Inductee.

Reginald Hodges has been a member of the North Carolina Freedom Park board of directors since 2005. He is the former Executive Director of the Durham Literacy Center, 2004-2014. Between 1968 and 2000, he worked in international development for the US Government, OIC International and the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help. He also worked on several UN and World Bank field projects. His work contributed to the construction of over 120 schools and training centers, primarily in West and Southern Africa. Reggie is a native of North Carolina. He attended public schools and graduated from North Carolina Central University, Durham NC in 1968 with a B.A. degree in Education. Reggie is currently a member of several boards, including the North Carolina Freedom Park, Ackland Museum, National Advisory Board, Durham Literacy Center, and Leadership Durham. He is also a former member and officer of the Durham Rotary.

James Williams is a co-founder and co-chair of the Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition. He was Chief Public Defender for Orange and Chatham Counties from 1990-2017 and was previously the Felony Chief of the Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office. Since 2018, Mr. Williams has served in an Of Counsel capacity at The Center for Death Penalty Litigation as Racial Equity Coordinator. In January 2020, Governor Cooper appointed him to the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. Mr. Williams has received numerous awards, including the N.C. Advocates for Justice Thurgood Marshall Award, the MLK University/Community Planning Inc. MLK Jr. Citizenship Award, the N.C. ACLU Champion of Justice Award, and the North Carolina Bar Association James McNeil Smith Jr. Award. Most recently, he won the N.C. Advocates for Justice Annie Brown Kennedy Award for commitment to acquiring full freedom for all citizens of North Carolina and exceptional advocacy that protects individual liberties.

Program Partners

Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition

The North Carolina Freedom Project

Carolina K-12 at Carolina Public Humanities


March 28
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


Whitted Building
300 W Tryon St
Hillsborough, NC 27278 United States
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