Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Spotlight on Inclusive Excellence: Cole Wicker

Presidential Fellow and Teaching Assistant

Our March spotlight is on doctoral student and Presidential Fellow Cole Wicker. He is the Executive Director of Heart of Deep River Historical Society (HODR), a non-profit in Sanford, North Carolina, that aims to collect, preserve, and share history within this former coal mining region.  Founded in 2021, the organization has grown exponentially, focusing first and foremost on community engagement. They achieved this through a regular lecture series, pop-up museums, first-hand experience tours of local cemeteries, oral histories workshops, and even creating a community-organized cookbook (which includes recipes, stories, and pictures from the area’s past). Recently, Cole had the pleasure of presenting on the legacies of forced labor in the Deep River coal field at the Heart of Deep River’s co-sponsored event, “Travails and Triumphs,” celebrating Black history in Central, NC. Never one to slow down, Cole and HODR are preparing for another year of great programming – including oral history workshops, immersive paddle trips down the Deep River, and an exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of the Coal Glen mining disaster. Cole is quick to point out that he does not do this work alone - HODR would not exist without the community members who gather and tell the whole story of the region.

Cole Wicker is a Public Historian and Ph.D. student interested in how we interpret race labor histories within our public lands. This includes the legacies of enslaved labor, convict labor, and various federal work programs utilized in creating these spaces. In and around UGA, this includes places like Hard Labor Creek State Park and the Smithonia Plantation (now listed on the National Register of Historic Places). As the Executive Director of HODR, Cole prioritizes sharing historical knowledge outside of the academy, welcoming all interested to the table.

Support us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.