1st Black officer in Freeport helps highlight accomplishments, history of people of African descent
A trailblazer for the Black community on Long Island is still helping people find the importance of their ancestry.
Julius Pearse became the first Black police officer in Freeport in 1962.
He rose the ranks and eventually retired as a detective, but says it wasn’t easy.
“They couldn't find a uniform, they couldn’t find a locker for me,” Pearse says. “I had to dress at the house and drive back and forth to work in uniform every day.”
He says when they swore him in, they never looked up.
Pearse is also a researcher and genealogist.
He and his late wife, Joysetta, created the African American Genealogical Society in 1994, which is now the “Joysetta and Julius Pearse African American Museum of Nassau County.”
“We were queens, kings, ruling the world,” Pearse says. “Contributions people don’t realize. That’s what we try to do here, hidden history here.”
The museum named in honor of the Pearse’s work holds exhibits, displays, artwork and artifacts dedicated to highlighting the history and accomplishments of people of African descent.
“One of the things that interests me was really when I found out that Queen Charlotte was Black,” Pearse says. “All of the pictures of her and statues of her shows her being white.”
The 88-year-old’s legacy is still felt in the department.
Deputy Chief Michael Williams says he remembers meeting Pearse on the front steps of the Freeport Police Department in 1989 when he first interviewed to join the department.
Pearse says by sharing his story, he hopes it inspires other to not just follow in his footsteps but start even bigger trails on their own.