What is your full name? Pierce Freelon
When were you born? Where? Durham, NC, Durham Regional Hospital, 1983
What is your educational background?
EK Powe Elementary
Durham School of the Arts
UNC Chapel Hill, BA in African and African American Studies
Syracuse University, MA in Pan African Studies
What was/is your most recent job?
Professor in the department of African and African American Studies at UNC
Do you have pets? Yes.
Jean Grey – Golden Retriever
Mira – tabby cat
What are you reading?
I just finished: Fledgling by Octavia Butler
Also reading/finished this summer:
Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown
Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley
Between The World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
What is a personal characteristic you have that makes you feel qualified to be Mayor?
I’m an artist. Our city is in need of bold vision and creative leadership.
What are the most important issues in this race to you?
There’s no single issue that I would elevate as “most important”. To quote spoken-word poet and LGBTQ rights political activist Staceyann Chin, I believe, “all oppression is connected.” The intersection of racism, poverty, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and sexism creates a society in which those with resources and privilege benefit at the expense of others.
Right now in Durham, over 70% of children under the age of 8 are Black or Latinx. A significant amount of these children are growing up poor, with nearly 40% of black and brown children living in households at or below poverty level, compared to 8% of white children. By the time these children are teenagers, they will be much more likely to be charged for marijuana possession than their white peers, even though both use marijuana at similar rates. This impacts opportunities for jobs, education, and even housing. It is these same families who will feel the squeeze from Durham becoming a more expensive place to live. Average rents now exceed $1,000/month and some neighborhoods have experienced housing price increases of nearly 400% in recent years. Meanwhile, there are more than 800 evictions a month (highest in NC) in Durham, displacing families and reshaping the demographics of our city.
I approach these intersecting challenges with joyful optimism in the knowledge that Durham is resilient, innovative, and resourceful. To quote June Jordan, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Our community is full of creatives and possibilities. As Mayor, I will work tirelessly to harness our collective strength, and to ensure that all Durhamites have access to good jobs with good wages, an affordable place to live, and a community where our youth can thrive. An equitable redistribution of resources and political power will help Durham plant seeds for a sustainable future.