Through our community-first organizing model, we draw on teams of community leaders to direct and inspire our work. All actions of the Jackson Center are determined by community leadership teams’ expertise in the history, visions, and values of the Northside, Pine Knolls, and Tin Top neighborhoods.

Community Leaders

Northside Compass Group

A direction-setting group of Northside neighbors that develops neighborhood strategy, guides our community landbank, and leads efforts to preserve the future of Northside.

Community Mentor Team

A group of Northside neighbors and residents dedicated to engaging students in our local civil rights history through the sharing and telling of their own personal stories and experiences.

Community Review Board

Northside neighbors who lead the development and representation of community histories and provide critical oversight of and input on public history initiatives.

Ms. Marian Cheek Jackson

Our Namesake

Ms. Marian Cheek Jackson was a long-term Northside resident who succeeded her father, Mr. Kennan Cheek Jackson, as the historian at St. Joseph C.M.E. since the early 1950s. Mrs. Jackson lived for 100 years in her family home, built by her grandfather, a former slave from Warren County who came to Chapel Hill at the turn of the century to work for UNC. Interviews with Mrs. Jackson led us to establish a Center where community members could continue to build a history of which we can all be proud.

Rev. Troy Harrison

Our Co-Founder

Reverend Troy F Harrison served at St. Joseph’s CME in Chapel Hill, NC, where he was instrumental in the establishment of Heavenly Groceries. He was a renowned community leader whose abiding vision of “a church without walls” drove the establishment of the Jackson Center. On April 29, 2017, his commitment to the beloved community was honored with an inscription of his words in a historic Neighborhood Gateway: “What has sustained this community has not been brick and mortar” but faith.

Yonni Chapman

Our Library

John K. Chapman, lovingly known as Yonni, was an educator and fierce advocate for civil and labor rights in the U.S. South. In 2009, Yonni lost a 30-year battle against cancer. His commitment to Black liberation and social justice in central North Carolina inspired his family to donate his private book collection for the use of our neighbors in Northside and beyond. The Yonni Chapman Library houses books related to institutional racism, Black histories, social justice, and Black liberation.

Student Leaders

The Student Leadership Group (SLG) is a community team of student residents and partners dedicated to realizing and sustaining the power of the UNC student body to connect, engage, and mobilize shared interests of Northside neighbors.

A life-changing lesson I’ve learned with the Jackson Center is that community building is a moving process of mutuality, meaning everyone must be invested and involved in one another’s wellbeing.

—2021-2022 SLG Member Cameron Milne

MCJC Staff

The Jackson Center team supports the leadership, vision, and goals of our community leadership teams. We are a creative work environment, with a vibrant and intergenerational staff who are committed to living the mission of our work.

Boards & Partners

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is responsible for governance, oversight, and decision-making for the operations of MCJC.

Board of Advisors

The MCJC Board of Advisors is a national network of public historians, community leaders, and visionaries who guide, extend, and deepen our work.


Partnership is integral to our work. We collaborate with a broad network of community partner organizations to implement community-led initiatives and programming.


Donations keep us going. In whatever amount, they encourage and provide. We are grateful for all our donors for their generous support in helping us make history.