Nellie Morrow Parker

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Nellie K. Morrow with her husband, William L. Parker, and their child, circa 1927

Nellie K. Morrow Parker (August 27, 1902 – January 25, 1998) was the first African American school teacher in Bergen County, New Jersey. Part of the Hackensack Public Schools, Nellie K. Parker Elementary School in Hackensack, New Jersey is named after her.[1]


She was born as Nellie K. Morrow to Mary A. (1875-?) and John Eugene Morrow (1873-?) aka Eugene Morrow, on August 27, 1902, in Hackensack, New Jersey.[2] John was the janitor of the Johnson Public Library at 274 Main Street in Hackensack, he was born in North Carolina. Nellie had the following siblings: Eugene Abram Morrow (1897-?); E. Frederic Morrow (1907–1994), the first African American to hold an executive position at the White House; John H. Morrow, Sr. (1910-2000), the first United States ambassador to independent Guinea; and William H. Morrow (1910-?).

Morrow graduated from Hackensack High School and graduated from Montclair Normal School (now Montclair State University) in 1922 with a certificate in teaching.[3]


She became the first African-American public school teacher in Bergen County, New Jersey in 1922 when she was hired to teach the fifth and sixth grades in the Hackensack, New Jersey public school system. Nellie remained in the Hackensack school system for 42 years. During this entire time span, she moved only once from First Street School to the Beech Street School. During her early years of teaching she and her family were subject to racism from the Ku Klux Klan and other organizations.[4][5]


In 1928 she married William L. Parker (1900-?) of Virginia. William worked as a salesman for a life insurance company.


She died in 1998 in Huntington Beach, California.


  1. ^ About Us, Nellie K. Parker School. Accessed November 26, 2017. "Our School is named after Nellie K. Parker, who served the children of Hackensack, New Jersey as an elementary school teacher for more than 42 years."
  2. ^ Burstyn, Joan N. Past and Promise; Lives of New Jersey Women, p. 373. Syracuse University Press, 1996. ISBN 9780815604181. Accessed November 25, 2017. "Nelle Katherine (Morrow) Parker was the first African-American public school teacher in Bergen County, NJ.... Parker was born August 27, 1902, in Hackensack, NJ, the second child and only daughter of John Eugene and Mary Ann (Hayes) Morrow."
  3. ^ Nellie K. Parker, Nellie K. Parker Elementary School. Accessed November 26, 2017. "Nellie entered Montclair Normal School and received her teaching certificate in 1922 after graduating from Hackensack High School."
  4. ^ Nellie Morrow Parker, New Jersey Women's History. Accessed November 26, 2017. "Nellie Morrow Parker (1902-1998) surmounted controversy to become the first African American public school teacher in Hackensack, Bergen County. She was hired as a young woman to teach fifth and sixth grade in the Hackensack public schools."
  5. ^ Willcox, Isobel. "Hackensack Is Recalled As Hostile, Racist Town", The New York Times, July 15, 1973. Accessed November 25, 2017. "One of Mr. Morrow's most vivid memories of his early days in Hackensack is the controversy that erupted in 1925 when his sister, Nellie, applied for a teaching position in the local public schools; the Knights of Columbus, the Daughters of the American Revolution, white church groups and the Ku Klux Klan (which often held rallies in nearby Bergenfield) protested at meetings, in the newspapers and in flood of hate letters to the Morrow family."

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