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Freedom Park Opening Is Special Moment for Professor

Victoria Gallagher, professor of communication, served on the park’s board of directors and has long been involved with the project.

The central beacon in Freedom Park, with the Raleigh skyline in the background

When Freedom Park opened in downtown Raleigh last month, one NC State professor was full of pride.

“It’s an amazing thing to see something that one has dreamed of, worked toward and longed for actually come to fruition,” says Victoria Gallagher, professor of communication, who served on the park’s board of directors and has been involved in the project since its conception more than 20 years ago.

Freedom Park, located on Wilmington Street, honors the voices and experiences of African Americans in North Carolina’s history. The walkways feature quotes by people such as renowned writer Maya Angelou, civil rights activist Julius Chambers and education pioneer Charlotte Hawkins Brown. At the park’s center stands the 45-foot-tall Beacon of Freedom, which is lit each evening at dusk.

An inscription on one of the orange walls surrounding the central beacon in the park

The park was designed by the late Phil Freelon, an NC State alumnus and award-winning architect. The park was built by Holt Brothers Construction, led by NC State alumnus Terrence Holt.

Gallagher says the board is wrapping up loose ends before the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and the African American Heritage Commission take over programming and maintenance for the park next month. A nonprofit called the Friends of NC Freedom Park will help the commission with programming and provide other support.

The central beacon in the park, with the SECU building in downtown Raleigh in the background

“I am excited for the next phase of the park now that it is open to the public,” Gallagher says. “It is inspiring to see people enjoying the park and to imagine all of the remarkable events that will take place in this space.”