Home 9 Biographies 9 Nellie Morrow Parker

Nellie Morrow Parker

Nellie Morrow Parker (1902-1998) was the first African American public school teacher in Hackensack, Bergen County.

As a young woman, Nellie taught fifth and sixth grade in the Hackensack public schools. The initial circumstances surrounding her appointment as a teacher were quite controversial. The district Superintendent William Stark acted against popular opinion at the time by hiring Parker. Consequently, Stark’s professional career suffered; the day after he hired Parker, Superintendent Stark resigned from his position.

During her early years of teaching, Parker and her family were subject to criticism by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Knights of Columbus, and subject to harassment by the Ku Klux Klan. The community held town meetings, the press voiced disapproval, and friends and strangers rebuked the Morrow family. Despite the tumultuous start to her teaching career, Parker remained in the Hackensack school system for 42 years. Parker was also a founding member of Black Women’s Business and Professional Organization and helped establish the Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship Fund.


Benbow-Pfalzgraf, Taryn. 2000. American women writers: a critical reference guide, from colonial times to the present. Detroit: St. James Press. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/55960380 

Baym, Nina. 2011. Women writers of the American West, 1833-1927. Urbana, Chicago: University of Illinois Press. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/669160857  


Questions to Explore

What happened to Superintendent Stark after resigning? Did this affect Parkers position as a teacher?

What is the Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship Fund?

How did Parker deal with the negative criticism she and her family received as a result of her job as a teacher? How did she continue to remain in the Hackensack School system after so many people were against it?

Additional Resources

Burstyn, Joan N.. Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women. United States: Syracuse University Press, 1997.