Photo by Mark Maya

Photo by Mark Maya


Pierce Freelon is a professor, director, musician, Emmy-Award winning producer, and former candidate for Mayor of Durham.

He is the founder of Blackspace, a digital maker space in Durham where young people learn about music, film and coding. He is the writer, composer and co-director of an animated series called History of White People in America, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018. He co-founded Beat Making Lab, a PBS web-series, which won Best Video Essay for its episode Heartbeats of Fiji at the 2015 Daytime Emmy Awards. He is the frontman of the jazz and hip-hop band The Beast.

Pierce earned a BA in African and African American Studies at UNC Chapel Hill and an MA in Pan African Studies at Syracuse University. He has taught music, political science, and African American studies at UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central University.

Pierce lives in Durham with his wife Katye and their two children.

Freelon for Durham

Pierce was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina where he ran for Mayor in 2017 on a platform of Community, Growth, Youth and Love. He is the youngest person to be appointed by the Governor to serve on the North Carolina Arts Council board. He has also served on the boards of the Durham Library Foundation, Nasher Museum of Art, KidZNotes, and others.

For his community work and his platform, Pierce's 2017 Mayoral campaign was endorsed by: Launch Progress, The Collective PAC, Run For Something, People For The American Way, Ignite NC Action Fund, and Equality NC.

Click here to learn more about Pierce‚Äôs principles and Plan for Durham. Click here to listen to his conversation with Maya Angelou, that inspired his platform principles.