Former Charlotte television news anchor Sterlin Benson Webber was sworn in Friday to the N.C. African American Heritage Commission.

The commission was established by the General Assembly last year to offer advice on the preservation, interpretation and promotion of African American history, arts and culture.

North Carolina had been the only Southeastern state without such a commission, Webber told

“I’m just excited about the prospect of working with this group,” she said.

Webber said preserving African American history and art is especially important to her family. She is married to Spurgeon Webber III, a Charlotte dentist whose ancestry was the subject of a 2005 PBS documentary.

The Roberts, Borders, Mauney, Howell, Briggs and related families trace their roots to Cleveland and Gaston counties in 1862. The related families have gathered for reunions for 103 consecutive years. Descendants include U.S. Rep. Mel Watt and the late tennis great Arthur Ashe.

The commission held its first meeting on Friday to lay out goals and priorities. Its duties include:

  • promoting public awareness of historic buildings, sites, structures, artwork, and culture associated with North Carolina’s African American heritage through special programs, exhibits and publications.
  • Supporting African American heritage education in elementary and secondary schools in coordination with North Carolina Public Schools
  • Building a statewide network of individuals and groups interested in the preservation of African American history, arts, and culture.
  • Developing a program to catalog, preserve, assess and interpret all aspects of African American history, arts and culture.

Others on the commission are: Jean G. Spaulding of Cary, Darin Waters of Raleigh, Harry Harrison of Asheville, Freddie Parker of Durham, Frankie Day of Graham, Annie McCoy of Raleigh, Donald A. Bonner of Rowland, E. B. Palmer Sr. of Raleigh and Andrena Coleman of Greensboro.

The members were sworn in by N.C. Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson.

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