James R. Fullwood is a native of the Yamacraw Community in Pender County, NC. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce with a focus in Banking and Real Estate from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. As a draftee during the Vietnam War, Specialist Fullwood served in the Administrative and Financial Command in the United States Army in Fort Carson, Colorado, where he received honors, awards and promotions. Mr. Fullwood served the State of North Carolina for more than a decade as a Probation and Parole Officer. In 1985, Governor James Martin appointed Mr. Fullwood as Director of Intensive Probation and Parole Supervision. With the election of each succeeding governor, Mr. Fullwood was appointed to other high-level positions until he retired in 2008. For more than ten years, he pursued purchasing the Historic Union Chapel School, which is believed to be a Rosenwald School. In 2005, Mr. Fullwood purchased the school, which was originally built in 1865 as a one-room log cabin school by his great- great- grandfather William Murphy, a blacksmith and former slave.
Michelle Lanier is an AfroCarolina folklorist, oral historian, museum professional, filmmaker and educator with over two decades of commitment to her callings. Raised in both Columbia and Hilton Head, South Carolina, and having ancestral roots in the sandhills, coastal plain, and upper piedmont of North Carolina, Michelle’s ancestral geography guides much of her interdisciplinary work. As a seasoned public humanities professional, in 2018, Michelle was named as the first African American director of all of North Carolina’s 25 state-owned historic sites. In 2008, Michelle successfully advocated for legislation creating the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, which she led as its founding executive director. She has also served on the faculty of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University since 2000. This work has led to Michelle’s role as Documentary Doula (aiding the birth of films) most notably the award-winning Mossville: When Great Trees Fall, which reveals a global south story of resistance to environmental racism. Michelle has traveled to Panama and Ghana to document African Diaspora folkway. Her ethnographic work on funerary traditions of St. Helena Island, South Carolina led to her role as North Carolina’s inaugural liaison to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
Sean Palmer is the director of the Upperman African American Cultural Center at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He previously was assistant director of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture at Duke University. Mr. Palmer earned a Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, a master’s degree in African and African America studies from Clark Atlanta University and a bachelor’s degree in English with double minors in African American studies and religious studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.
Herb Frazier is an author, journalist and marketing and public relations manager at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens near Charleston. He has edited and reported for five daily newspapers in the South, including his hometown paper, The Post and Courier. He has written extensively about the Lowcountry’s historical ties with West Africa and the Caribbean. Frazier, who studied journalism at the University of South Carolina, has taught newswriting as a visiting lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa. In 1990, the South Carolina Press Association named him Journalist of the Year. He is a former Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. Frazier is the author of “Behind God’s Back: Gullah Memories,” and co-author of “We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel.” His forthcoming book is “Crossing the Sea on a Sacred Song,” the story of the Mende funeral song that connects Mary Moran in Georgia with Baindu Jabati in Sierra Leone.
Dawn Dawson-House is Director of Corporate Communications for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. In that role, she raises awareness about the cabinet agency’s public service, which is to operate 47 state parks, provide recreational grant assistance to local communities and to brand-market the state of South Carolina as a great place for travel. Among her duties, she writes and distributes press releases, manages the agency’s website at www.SCPRT.com and distributes the monthly e-newsletter South Carolina Tourism Today. Dawn Dawson-House continues to work with the Commission, but now as vice-chair of the South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation, a non-profit that raises money and resources for Commission projects.
Veronica Hemmingway was reared in Columbia, SC with both her paternal and maternal lines of her family rooted in coastal South Carolina. She has more than twenty years’ experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector and is the Southern Lowcountry Director with Coastal Community Foundation. Veronica is an experienced strategic thinker who throughout her career has committed herself to strengthening the community and the nonprofits that serve it through program development, practical development strategies, stewardship frameworks, and strategic organizational planning. While possessing an extensive background in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, she is also a thought leader in philanthropy in communities of color. Veronica holds a B.S. in Management from Clemson University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University.
Dionne Hoskins-Brown, Commission Chair, is a fishery biologist with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and serves as the Director of NOAA Programs at Savannah State University, where she also earned her B.S. degree in Marine Biology. She holds a doctorate in Marine Sciences from the University of South Carolina. Since 1999, she has administered NOAA-funded student research training programs while researching essential fisheries habitat, African-American participation in Georgia fisheries, and approaches to increasing minority representation in marine fields. In 2009, she established the African American Fishermen Oral History Project to capture the experiences of Gullah-Geechee families on the Georgia coast through the Voices from the Fisheries database. Dr. Hoskins merges her interests in marine research and education by focusing on assessment, equity, and transparency in governance by serving as a member of the Savannah Chatham County School Board. She and her husband Akino live quietly in Savannah with their two dogs.
Griffin Lotson, Commission Vice-Chair, is Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit Sams Memorial Community Economic Development, Inc., as well as manager of the nationally acclaimed Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters. A resident of Darien, GA, Lotson has traced his Gullah Geechee family history back seven generations. He has worked as a community input adviser with the National Park Service Low Country Gullah Culture Special Resource study and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission. Lotson has also worked with The Georgia Sea Island Singers, SICARS (Sapelo Island, GA), Penn Center (St. Helena Island, SC), the Coastal African American Action Network (GA), the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition (GA) and Geechee Kunda (GA). Lotson has raised over $10 million with grants and other funding for communities in the area of cultural arts, economic development, housing and educational programs. Traveling to Sierra Leone, he served as special consultant to the Sierra Leone Africa Government chief protocol office of foreign affairs, working also with Professor Joseph Opala, Director of the Bunce Island Coalition and Isatu Smith, a Sierra Leonean who is the deputy director. He also met with Gullah Kinship of Sierra Leone Africa.
Jasper “Jazz” Watts, a Georgia native is currently living and working in Metro Atlanta with ancestors from Sapelo and St. Simon’s Island. Mr. Watts has been described as “a voice of reason” and “objective and diplomatic”. He has been credited with bringing information and resources to the long-time Sapelo residents seeking to stabilize their presence on the island.
Meredith D. Hardy, Commission Treasurer, is an archeologist and Coordinator for Interpretation, Education, and Outreach for the Southeast Archeological Center in Tallahassee, FL, and the Cultural Resources Program Manager for Christiansted National Historic Site on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Her research encompasses island and coastal communities, foodways, enslavement, and the emergence of creole societies. Since 1999 she has worked with Cumberland Island National Seashore to discover, interpret, and protect the African American archeological heritage within the park boundaries for the American public. Dr. Hardy makes archeological research accessible and relevant to global audiences by connecting events of the past with modern social issues. She works with NPS partners, the Smithsonian Museum of African American Heritage and Culture, and George Washington University on the Slave Wrecks Project, which combines maritime and terrestrial investigations with training, heritage protection, exhibits, and education. She has a Ph.D. from Florida State University, an MS from the University of New Orleans, and a B.A. from Indiana University.
Floyd Phillips was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1942, growing up during the height of segregation. Today, as President of the Friends of Lincolnville, and co-director of the Lincolnville Museum, along with his wife, Gayle. There, he teaches throngs of individuals from all over the world about African American history in St. Johns County, where Floyd has lived since 1998.
Eugene Emory, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Emory University. Dr. Emory’s clinical and research interests are in developmental psychophysiology and neuropsychology. Dr. Emory was a recipient of the Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health.