Dr. Elliot Brown (E.B.) Palmer, a long-time educator, public historian, and preservationist, has made substantial contributions to the preservation of African American life and culture. His numerous accomplishments include the establishment, along with his wife (Juanita Palmer), of the African American Cultural Complex (AACC) in Raleigh, where the Palmers sought to highlight the contributions made by African Americans to North Carolina and the United States through structured educational programming. Through the AACC, Dr. Palmer and his wife have brought African American history to life for countless North Carolinians.
Dr. Palmer served as Executive Director of Hammocks Beach Corporation for nearly half a century. Established as a segregated state park for African American North Carolinians, the site’s history and natural resources are now preserved as Hammocks Beach State Park. Dr. Palmer was a member of the N.C. Aquarium Society Board of Directors and the Raleigh Arts Commission, and served as a consultant to the N.C. Museum of History’s Minority Affairs Committee. He is also past president of the College Community Chorale Society.
A respected civic leader, Dr. Palmer served as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Teachers Association (NCTA). He led the fight to protect the rights of Black educators and contributed to the desegregation of public schools during his tenure; he entered suits, organized workers, and successfully worked with attorney Julius Chambers to eliminate the use of discriminatory certification exams by the NC State Board of Education in 1969. He was a key leader in the merger that integrated the state’s education associations through the formation of the North Carolina Association of Educators. He served under three United States Presidents and eight North Carolina Governors on various commissions and task forces related to education, and was elected as a delegate to the International Conference of the Teaching Profession in Seoul, Korea and Dublin, Ireland.
Dr. Palmer has received two of North Carolina’s most prestigious awards: The Order of the Longleaf Pine (conferred by Gov. Jim Hunt, 1999), and The Old North State Award (conferred by Gov. Mike Easley, 2007). He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from both the North Carolina State Teachers Association (1989) and the National Education Association (1992); has earned awards for his contributions to the museum field from the National Association of African American Museums and the National Education Association; and was named to the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission by Gov. Beverly Purdue, serving from 2009 – 2013.
Dr. Palmer is a native of Durham, North Carolina. A 1951 graduate of Hillside High School, he holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from North Carolina Central University and completed post-graduate work at Bimidji State University (Minnesota), Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University.
[Sources: Library of Congress; biography and c.v. submitted by honoree]