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Halifax Community College welcomed Dr. Freddie Parker Feb. 7 for his presentation, “Runaway Slaves in North Carolina with an emphasis on Halifax County.” Pictured from left are Tom Schwartz, Shaun Stokes, Dr. Parker, Dr. Ervin V. Griffin Sr., and Kenneth Jones.

As part of Black History Month activities, Halifax Community College hosted a colloquium featuring North Carolina Central University's Dr. Freddie Parker, Feb. 7 on campus. Parker's presentation was titled “Runaway Slaves in North Carolina with an emphasis on Halifax County.”

A graduate of NCCU and UNC-Chapel Hill, Parker has published two books, “Running for Freedom: Slave Runaways in NC, 1775-1840” and “Stealing a Little Freedom: Advertisements for Slave Runaways in North Carolina, 1791-1840.” Among his many accomplishments, Parker was appointed by Governor Mike Easley to the N.C. Historical Commission in 2007.

Parker presented his research on the journey of slaves into North Carolina, particularly Halifax County. According to him, few came directly into the state from Africa. Most arrived via Virginia and South Carolina and were then shipped into the state. By 1735, around 6,000 blacks were living in North Carolina, many residing in the Halifax District. Although slavery grew slowly in North Carolina, it was an entrenched institution and a driving economic force by the time of the Revolutionary War.

“Just as slavery had become an entrenched institution, blacks began to resist. They began to rebel. … They resisted the institution of slavery on a daily basis by running away,” said Parker.

Research examined runaway slaves by gender, the places that they ran to as well as the ages of those who frequently ran away. Skin color, those who ran away with a group vs. alone, health conditions, and times of year that slaves ran away were reviewed. Parker also read advertisements for runaway slaves from Halifax County.