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Celebrating Black History Month

Left: Models in the African American Textile Society's first Fashion Exposé (Photo Courtesy: The Technician, 1998).

A message from Associate Dean Pamela McCauley

Dear Wilson College Community,

Welcome to Black History Month 2023! This is a historic and joy filled time designed to recognize and celebrate the many contributions of individuals of African descent to America. Black History Month had its beginnings in 1915, when Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other people of African descent. The organization sponsored a national Negro History Week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.  

As the years went by, many cities and communities held celebrations to honor the contributions of African Americans to the nation. However, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Today, Black History Month is celebrated in February each year as a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society (Source).

Given the significant contributions of African Americans and other diverse individuals to the textiles industry, it is a joy to recognize and celebrate the historic achievements, bountiful contributions and enduring impact of African Americans throughout the textiles industry. 

Associate Dean Pamela McCauley Inducted into Her Second Hall of Fame

Her admission to the Black Engineer of the Year Hall of Fame is just the latest accomplishment on the national stage.

Pamela McCauley (right) hugs another person on stage at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony. The photo is taken from relatively far away, so the shadows of the heads of members are the crowd are visible. A screen behind McCauley reads "Pamela R. McCauley 2022 Oklahoma Hall of Fame Honoree" in white font on a red background.

Black History “Firsts” at the Wilson College

1971: James “Jim” Rucker becomes the first Black student to graduate from the college.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in textile chemistry, Rucker went on to earn his doctorate in fiber and polymer science from the college in 1986. He later returned as an associate professor for the Wilson College.

1982: Pamela Banks-Lee becomes the college’s first Black female faculty member.

Photo of Pam Banks-Lee standing behind a desk in front of a chalkboard.

Banks-Lee retired in 2022, after mentoring countless graduate students and conducting research to advance the field of textiles for audiology.

1990: Harold Freeman becomes the first Black professor to earn a named professorship at the Wilson College of Textiles.

A photo of Harold Freeman (middle) speaking with a group of people outside.

Harold S. Freeman became the Ciba Professor of Dye Chemistry at the age of 39. An internationally recognized dye chemist, he received the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence, the highest faculty honor bestowed by the trustees and NC State University in 2017.

How Black Culture and Black History Informs Sneakerhead Culture

Wilson College of Textiles Associate Professor Delisia Matthews researches the roots and culture of sneaker fanatics.

Delisia Matthews wears a long grey dress with with white drawstrings at the collar and long sleeves. She sits on top of a larger-than-life green couch made out of synthetic turf with her legs crossed and looking straight ahead but away from the camera, which is positioned to her right. Behind her, a remodeled shipping container that has been turned into a work space is visible.

Diversity Propels the Wilson College of Textiles and the North Carolina Textile Foundation

Diversity and inclusivity are interwoven into the core values that inform the work of the Wilson College of Textiles and the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF), which serves as the college’s philanthropic arm.

The NCTF makes the college’s groundbreaking, industry-leading work possible. That exceptional work includes supporting change agents, glass ceiling breakers and equity seekers in a variety of ways. With the foundation’s financial backing and extensive network of connections, our college’s students, staff and alumni, including members of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council, can continue to further their understanding and celebration of diversity and inclusion.  

Donate to the Textiles Diversity and Inclusion Fund

Latasia Priest Will Continue Championing Diversity as the Next Chair of T.I.D.E.

Latasia Priest

Priest, NCTF’s director of alumni engagement and strategic initiatives, is the second chair of the Task Force for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (T.I.D.E.) within NC State’s University Advancement division.

Jasmine Cox ’13, ’20

Jasmine Cox

Current Ph.D. student Jasmine Cox ’13, ’20, who is co-president of the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council, helps alumni connect with their alma mater while also giving students from rural North Carolina access to a world-class textile technology education.

Remington Scott ’16, ’19

Remington Scott

As a two-time graduate, Remington Scott ’16, ’19 credits the Wilson College of Textiles for giving him the fundamentals he needed to be successful throughout his career, including his current role as a R&D engineer at Honeywell.

Find resources and community

Black History Month is the perfect chance to learn and connect. Here are just a few of the opportunities offered through NC State: