Black History 365: Nellie Morrow Parker

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Nellie Morrow Parker (1902-1998) was the first African American public school teacher in Hackensack, Bergen County.

As a young woman, Nellie taught fifth and sixth grade in the Hackensack public schools. The initial circumstances surrounding her appointment as a teacher were quite controversial. The district Superintendent William Stark acted against popular opinion at the time by hiring Parker. Consequently, Stark’s professional career suffered; the day after he hired Parker, Superintendent Stark resigned from his position.

During her early years of teaching, Parker and her family were subject to criticism by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Knights of Columbus, and subject to harassment by the Ku Klux Klan. The community held town meetings, the press voiced disapproval, and friends and strangers rebuked the Morrow family. Despite the tumultuous start to her teaching career, Parker remained in the Hackensack school system for 42 years. Parker was also a founding member of Black Women’s Business and Professional Organization and helped establish the Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship Fund.