“With his strong background in education, philanthropy and theology and his deep roots in the Carolinas, C.G. will add a valuable perspective to our work at the Endowment,” said Board Chair Minor Shaw. “He has distinguished himself as an exceptional leader and teacher throughout his career, and his broad expertise will be a tremendous asset. We are looking forward to having him as a colleague on our Board.”
Born to a family of educators in northeast North Carolina, Newsome is a triple alumnus of Duke University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in religion in 1972, a Master of Divinity in 1975 and a Ph.D. in religion in 1982. As an undergraduate, he lettered in football and was twice named to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Academic Honor Roll Team. In 2017, Duke Athletics dedicated the C.G. Newsome Players Plaza adjacent to the north end of Wallace Wade Stadium. Newsome was the university’s first African American student commencement speaker and he won the prestigious James B. Duke Dissertation Year Fellowship while pursuing his doctoral studies.
Newsome was a popular professor at Duke Divinity School for eight years. While on the faculty, he also served as pastor of a Baptist church and was a leader in the General Baptist Convention of North Carolina, the nation’s largest African American Baptist state convention.
He arrived at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C., in 1986 as the assistant dean, and then became associate dean, acting dean, and dean from 1992 to 2003. Newsome left Howard to become the 13th president of Shaw University in Raleigh until 2009.
Newsome served as president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center from 2013 to March 2017. The center, which opened in 2004 as a history museum, shares stories of freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, and convenes dialogue on freedom and human rights. Under Newsome’s leadership, the institution forged many new partnerships and its endowment grew from $4 million to $10 million. It attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually.
Known for his academic work in African American history and culture as well as religious history, Newsome has served on several major committees of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and is a member and past president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, a nationwide think tank of scholars engaged in studying the religious experience of Africans Americans. He served on the Duke University Board of Trustees, and has also served on the Divinity School Board of Visitors and as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
He is married to Lynne Platt Newsome, who is also a graduate of Duke University.
On the Endowment’s Board, Newsome replaces Mary D.T. Jones, who retired on Dec. 31, 2017, and was elected a Trustee Emeritus.
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3.6 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.