Juneteenth Speakers Bureau

The NC AAHC is leading NC DNCR in the effort to create a Speakers Bureau centered on sharing North Carolina’s liberation history. The esteemed experts below are willing to present lectures surrounding Juneteenth, African American history, and topics related to freedom-seeking. Additional information will be available on the NC AAHC website as we continue to share rich stories from our state’s Juneteenth history in celebration of this national holiday.

Leesa Jones

Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum


Leesa Jones is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum in Washington North Carolina which was established in 2016. It is the only Underground Railroad Museum dedicated to telling the story of the underground railroad history in North Carolina.
As a native of Washington NC, and after retirement as Preschool teacher of 32 years, teaching in schools in Philadelphia PA and Burlington NJ, she started the African American History Tours of Washington NC in 2009 to help locals and tourists discover 300 years of local African American history that had not been previously shared in local historical documents and books. In 2014, with the help of the Phoenix Historical Society of Tarboro NC, Leesa Jones was able to get a 3-mile portion of the Pamlico-Tar River designated as a National Park Service- Underground Railroad Network To Freedom Site. In 2016, she co-founded the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum, which was awarded a designation as a National Park Service-Underground Railroad-Network To Freedom Facility. In 2017, with the assistance from the Phoenix Historical Society, Leesa Jones helped secure Beaufort County's first North Carolina Highway Commission Historical Marker to honor an African American subject. In 2021, she helped Washington get its first Pomeroy History Marker that celebrates an African American man named Hull Anderson born enslaved in 1784 and becoming very wealthy in Washington by 1826.


Beverly Fields Burnette

NC Association of Black Storytellers

Beverly Fields Burnette is a Storyteller (current President of the N.C. Association of Black Storytellers, Inc), a published poet, a retired School Social Worker/Elementary Guidance Counselor, and the mother of two adult daughters, who are both educators. Burnette is a great admirer/lover of poetry, short stories, history, genealogy and anthropology. Born in Rocky Mount, NC, Burnette, the older of two children, she relished hearing family stories and loved eaves dropping in on the talk of the grown folks around her. These family and community stories sealed Burnette's early storytelling interest, as well as her desire to pursue the genealogy of her family. She has been a consistent hunter of her ancestors...from the NC mountains to the NC Coast for over three decades.
Burnette has written and published historical memoirs and poems, and has employed poetry and storytelling as vehicles for teaching family connections, African American history, creating positive feelings, healing wounds, and bridging gaps.
Burnette is a founding member of both the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective,  and the N.C. Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. ; a member (30+ years) of the Washington Street Writers, as well as The National Assoc. of Black Storytellers,  Inc. She enjoys performing stories in the guise of Harlem Renaissance folklorist/anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston,  and has been published in several national publications. Burnette has called Raleigh "home" since the early 1970s.


Carolyn Evans

Independent Educator

Whether you prefer to have the life of Harriet Tubman, Harriet Jacobs, Sojourner Truth, or Mamie Till interpreted, her specialty is, "BRINGING", their "HISTORY ALIVE!" Ms. Evans first set foot on the stage some 57 years ago performing with her mothers' Interpretive Dance troupe. That little 'Project" group drew the attention of the Negro Ensemble Company based out of the Henry Street Settlement, in New York City. Their dedicated Artists, the forgiving members of her church family and the Brooklyn Academy Of Music groomed Carolyn for what she would be later in life-Confident. Though she had a harsh stutter, her Godly faith directed her to challenge herself and earn a Bachelor Of Fine Arts at the Syracuse University School of Drama and an Associates as a New York Registered Nurse, (Helene Fulde, Harlem.) She honed both crafts through the New York State Psychiatric System and The New York Department of Corrections. Prison clients would urge her to, "teach outside to prevent our children from coming in here." She listened. Carolyn is married with two grown children; one a former Peace Officer, now an Actor and the other an IT Director and School Board volunteer President. She herself tours as an independent educator. She also tours with Joe McGill 's (Slave Dwelling Project), "Inalienable Rights Players", out of Charleston, South Carolina. Teaching Artist, Carolyn Evans, "BRINGS HISTORY ALIVE!" 


Bernard George


Bernard George is a respected historian and active member of the 35th Regiment United States Colored Troop based out of New Bern, NC. He serves on the Tryon Palace Board of Directors and its African American Commission. Bernard is a founder and active member of the African American Heritage & Cultural Center of New Bern. He once served as the Land & Community Development Administrator for the City of New Bern. 





Adrienne Nirdé

North Carolina African American Heritage Commission 


Adrienne Nirdé (pronounced "Near-day") has served as the Director of the NC African American Heritage Commission since 2023 where her role focuses on grant project management and communications. Prior to her time with the Commission, she spent almost ten years working in museums and cultural institutions including the President James K. Polk State Historic Site in Pineville, NC, and the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, NC. She holds a Master's degree in Museum Studies from Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis as well as Bachelor's degrees in History and Anthropology from Indiana University. She is a proud member of the Smithsonian's Interpreting African American History and Culture Workshop 2020 cohort. She has always had a primary interest in sharing diverse stories, particularly those have not yet been told and centering the communities that hold them. Adrienne lives and gardens in Wendell, NC with her husband, a high school social studies teacher, and their two dogs.


Natalie Rodriguez

North Carolina African American Heritage Commission 

Photo and biography coming soon!



Khadija McNair

North Carolina African American Heritage Commission 

Photo and biography coming soon!