Howard N Lee discusses a lifetime of public service and community engagement with two UNC Chapel Hill graduate students: Daniel Johnson, Roy H Park M.A. Fellow, Hussman School of Journalism; and Moriah James, doctoral student (Anthropology) and research assistant.
Howard Nathaniel Lee, born July 28, 1934, grew up on a sharecropper’s farm in Lithonia, Georgia. He graduated from Bruce High School in 1953 and enrolled in Clark College in Atlanta later transferring to Fort Valley State College in Georgia, where he received a BA degree in Sociology in 1959. He was drafted and served two years in the United States Army, spending more than one year in Korea. After being honorably discharged in 1961, he worked as Juvenile Probation Officer in Savannah, Georgia. In 1964, he enrolled in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and received his master’s degree in 1966. Until 1975, Lee was a member of the faculty staff and an administrator at Duke University and visiting faculty appointment at North Carolina Central University.
In 1969, Lee was elected and served three terms (1975) as Mayor of Chapel Hill. Among his major initiatives was the implementation of the first police social work initiative, which is now the Police Crisis Unit within the Chapel Hill Police Department.