SEABOARD, N.C. (WNCN) — Rodney Pierce doesn’t remember the book, but he remembers the name and the story of Dr. Nicholas F. Roberts.

“I’m reading the things he did in his life and I’m like wait a minute. This dude was major,” Pierce mentioned.

Roberts was born in Seaboard in 1849.

He opened a school for African Americans in 1868 in his hometown. He was a part of the first graduating class at Shaw University and eventually became the university’s first Black president.

Throughout his life, he was a religious leader, a journalist and the first African American to serve on the Wake County School Board during the 19th century.

After learning this in 2019, Pierce who’s a historian and educator, decided to apply for a highway historical marker to honor Roberts.

“The more information I learned about him the more I said this really, really needs to be done. Then boom, the pandemic happens and that coincides with a budget freeze within the department of transportation for about a year or so and they weren’t doing the marker program,” explained Pierce.

However, Pierce kept going.

“Sometimes God denies us things because he’s setting up something greater,” he stated.

At the beginning of this year, Roberts’ marker was approved by the North Carolina Highway Historical Markers Program.

Saturday, state lawmakers, congressmen, Shaw University’s administration, Northampton County leaders and community members gathered at Seaboard town hall for a dedication ceremony.

Among those in attendance was Roberts’ family. Including Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott. Scott is Roberts’ great-grandson.

“So, it’s going to be like a mini family reunion man,” Pierce said. “She (Scott’s sister) said, Mr. Pierce you are bringing families together. You don’t know how God is using you man. Where you end up bringing families together that never met each other,” Pierce said.