Keith D. Parker: A life dedicated to justice and Civil Rights
By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
Keith Parker is a Mississippi native with a distinguished career spanning 32 years in higher education, administration, research, criminal justice, and university/ community relations. He is, also, Founder and Executive Director of the National Education and Empowerment Coalition, Inc. (NEEC) and Chair of the annual National Civil Rights Conference held each June in Meridian, Mississippi. Keith was born and raised in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He received his undergraduate degree from Delta State University and graduate degrees from Mississippi State University where his parents, growing up in the segregated south, were not allowed to attend. He credits conversations he overheard in his youth from his grandparents, actively involved in Eastern Star and Masonic organizations, with inspiring his lifelong devotion to civil rights and criminal justice. He has left his imprint on universities and communities throughout the U.S. since beginning his academic career as Assistant to the Dean of Students at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi; then Assistant Professor of Sociology at Auburn University in Alabama.
He moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1989 where he continued his scholarly work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 14 years, beginning as Assistant Professor of Sociology (1989-94) and Director of African American and African Studies (1993-98). Dr. Parker was Assistant and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies (1997-2002), and Associate Professor of Sociology (1995-2003). In 2003, Keith moved to Athens, Georgia, to accept the position of Professor of Sociology and Associate Provost for Institutional Diversity at the University of Georgia, Athens. He is now Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Florida A & M University, while also directing the NEEC and coordinating the National Civil Rights Conference; bringing our unique history to life for younger generations. In addition, Dr. Parker is the author of articles for many scholarly journals on civil rights, health and wellness, education, youth, and the law. He is much in demand as a lecturer and diversity facilitator, as well.
While in Lincoln, Nebraska, he was completely devoted to his community through his volunteer and civic service. He was an active member of the NAACP serving as First Vice President, a member of the Salvation Army Board, Chair of the MLK Freedom Breakfast Planning Committee, member of the Nebraska Partners in Prevention Advisory Committee, and an active member of Mount Zion Baptist Church just to name a few.
He is widely recognized for his outstanding professional achievements and service. Those honors include Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, Who’s Who Among African-Americans, Outstanding Young Men of America, Outstanding Scholars of the 20th Century, Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame, the University of Nebraska “Fulfilling the Dream” Award, and many more.
Keith has brought that same “can do” spirit to Tallahassee with his excellent work at FAMU that translates into community projects that improve the quality of life for youth and our City, through his Youth and Law Community Initiative working with churches, existing community-based organizations, and institutions. As he prepares for the June 17-20, 2018 8th National Civil Rights Conference, the Capital Outlook Newspaper is pleased to name Keith D. Parker its Person of the Week.
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