Our 2018-2019 Workshops

Northside Community Pillars Workshop

Freedom Walk Workshop

Oral History Workshop

Hidden Hill Workshop

Citizen/Action Workshop

The TYS (Telling Your Story) Project


“ We were like 14, 15 years old. So you marched, you demonstrated…It was fun to work, to grow and know that you could make a difference, that you could do some things that would make a change.”

-- Northside resident

Chapel Hill is typically seen as such a liberal and accepting place but in reality it wasn't and still isn't. Today was the first day I had heard anything about the Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill and I've lived here my entire life. I think this needs to be talked about more in the district/state.

-- Carrboro High School student

“It's one thing to talk about places like Selma that are far away, but it's very different when you recognize the places in the photos. I had no idea there was a murder at the pit and I'm upset that I'd never heard about it. I think that speaks to America's history of repressing our mistakes. But I'm glad that the conversation is opening up in this country.”

-- Chapel Hill High School student

“I went to a classroom of kids who were suspended from school. And I was talking to them about how I felt when I was going through the situations with peer pressure. … You can feel them accepting you, because they were looking at me and saying, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’m going through.’ I think I got just as much from it as they did.”

-- Member of Community Mentor Team

Northside Community Pillars Workshop

What is community? This two-part workshop introduces students to the history of the vibrant, close-knit Northside community, a historically Black  community that emerged in the early part of the 20th century when agricultural opportunities began to dry up and the demand for labor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill dramatically increased. The Northside Pillars Workshop introduces students to the foundational strengths and institutional networks that make Northside both rare and like other communities across the country that forged  themselves out of mutual care and an ethic of self-sustenance.

In the first part of the workshop, students learn in the classroom about the vibrant history of Northside community life and what many neighbors call the “four pillars”: home, school, business and church.  Part two of the workshop is designed as a field trip opportunity. Students are invited to follow in the footsteps of generations of Northsiders on their way from their family homes to Northside Elementary to Mr. Bynum Weaver’s store to fellowship at St. Bryant’s Chapel, St. Joseph CME Church,  and other local churches. They will be asked along the way to scavenge for evidence of continuity and change.

Freedom Walk Workshop

This two-part workshop is geared towards elementary school students and offers a first-hand experience of the Northside community. This workshop focuses on the concept and practice of activism and introduces students to some of Northside’s civil rights leaders, many of whom were arrested and imprisoned multiple times during their three-year struggle for equal access. The first session will introduce students to the freedom movement and non-violent protest  through a multimedia presentation and immersive activities. The second session will put students in the shoes of people who marched for rights of equal citizenship. With their homemade protest signs, they’ll visit the rock wall where Northside teenagers planned the first sit-ins in Chapel Hill and learn about the local leaders, young people like them who struggled to end segregation .

Oral History Workshop

In this two-part workshop, we turn our attention to the experiences, actions, and accomplishments of everyday history makers: the people who laid the stone walls at UNC, integrated area schools, and risked their lives, jobs, and safety for freedom, people whose histories we only know by listening. The first part of the workshop introduces students to the what, why, and how of oral history through media presentation and active listening exercises designed to prepare students to listen to and to interview one of our community mentors, elders who have lived in the community since childhood. Students will engage in activities meant to help them remember what they heard and pass on what they’ve learned to others.

The Hidden Hill Workshop

Chapel Hill is a town some have referred to as “the Southern part of heaven.” And yet, like the rest of the South, it has a long history of racial struggle. In February 1960, civil rights activists from Chapel Hill’s black neighborhoods, mostly teenagers from the former Black high school, Lincoln High, took up the charge in Chapel Hill, planning and staging the first sit-in at Colonial Drug store on Franklin Street.  But this was only the start of a freedom struggle against local injustices that continues today. In this multimedia, interactive workshop, we’ll ask: How does the history of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation relate to Chapel Hill’s reputation for liberal politics? What purpose does a one-sided telling of history serve, and why is it important to tell the truth about history critically and boldly? In the second part of the workshop, students will delve deeper into current social justice struggles, engaging in active listening and discussion of a spoken word piece, written and performed by Brentton Harrison.

The Citizen/Action Workshop

Designed for high school civics classes, this workshop (offered in 1-3 parts) focuses on the question:   What does it mean to be a citizen? We’ll brings alive past civil rights struggles to shed light on contemporary challenges and opportunities for public engagement and protest.  The workshop will begin with a multimedia session engaging students in differences and similarities between historical segregation, desegregation, and contemporary patterns of resegregation. Students will then consider what barriers-- legal and otherwise--keep certain  groups or individuals from enjoying the full rights and benefits of belonging, whether on a sports team or at the polls. Students will talk with members of the Community Mentor team about past and current forms of disfranchisement. In conclusion, they’ll dive into comparison of images from the freedom movement in Chapel Hill and contemporary images of  activists in the Black Lives Matter movement, protests against police and gun violence, and other instances of youth activism today.

The TYS (Telling Your Story) Project

Based on the Jackson Center’s award-winning Fusion Youth Radio program, this semester-long “artivism” program is an innovative and creative approach to  cultivating community leadership among diverse, local middle and high school students.  The TYS Project  affirms that each and every student has a story to tell and has a voice worth broadcasting. It provides the tools necessary for each student to investigate relevant histories of race, class, and gender and to amplify their perspectives through the production of audio-documentaries, photo essays and other creative pieces to be shared in final, public listening sessions. In addition to building public speaking, critical thinking, narrative production, and audio editing skills, the workshop prepares students to bring the power of their perspectives to bear in learning, sharing and making history.  

We work with school partners to ensure that each workshop is age- and course-appropriate.  Some Learning Across Generations workshops can be adapted for multiple grades. All workshops are aligned with multiple  grade-specific North Carolina Standard Course of Study specifications and with Teaching Tolerance’s Social Justice Standards for anti-bias education at every grade level. For more information about Teaching Tolerance,  the Social Justice Standards, and the innovative K-12 curriculum, Perspectives for a Diverse America, visit tolerance.org.  




“I feel really good about what the Jackson Center is doing. The children were very attentive. They had excellent questions. And they were just so inviting. … When it was over it was like, ‘Can we give you a hug?’ And actually, I stood there in that classroom and I hugged every one of them until when I left out of the door. They wanted us to answer those questions. So they gave them to me. … And I’m trying to finish them so that I can actually give them back. It was a great experience for me, absolutely wonderful.”  Member of Community Mentor Team


To find out more and plan your workshop, call the Jackson Center at 919-960-1670 or email us at contact@jacksoncenter.info.

Workshop Costs

A note on pricing

The Jackson Center's Learning Across Generations programs is funded in part by grants but also relies on funding from our school partners to cover the costs of developing and presenting our workshops. In order to meet our goal of offering workshops to every teacher who wants students to learn about our rich, local history, we charge minimal per-workshop fees. If you are unable to pay the amounts listed, just let us know. We want to work with you, regardless of your ability to pay.

Just contact Andrea Wuerth, Director of Education at (919) 960-1670 (andrea@jacksoncenter.info).

Click here for a workshop price list.

Workshop for Educators -- Check out our newest workshop offering!


Our newest workshop is just for teachers and others who educate kids today. The workshop centers on equity in the classroom and asks, what can we do to foster a sense of self-worth in every student? Taught by two career teachers with decades of teaching experience in local schools, workshops focus on two themes: why and how to introduce children to the transformational power of poetry and song; and how to create a classroom environment in which everyone feels part of a loving family. Teachers will have the opportunity to listen, share and participate in this one-hour engaging, interactive session!


“I utilized poems to help instill pride in our children because when we grew up, black folks didn't feel like they were worthy of anything—or worthy to have the same advantages as others.” 

Ms. Freda Andrews

“Children have opinions just like adults do. And if you don’t listen to them, they’re never going to be strong, responsible citizens because you haven’t given them an opportunity to speak. And sometimes they needed a chance to speak. I always had what I call a “family chat” because I called my class my family. I didn’t say this was my class. This was my family. And sometimes I would move up and move back down. I’d teach fourth grade, and they’d move it to fifth so we could have the same class. And then we’d have a family reunion in the summer when school started. We would write to each other. But in that kind of way, I knew my kids; my kids knew me. I had sleepovers at school on a Friday. We would cook out, and the parents would come. We’d play games together as a group. And parents would go home, and we’d do all kinds of things. … I think you have to know the whole child.”   

Ms. Gwen Atwater


Workshop Objectives

  • To introduce teachers to two Northside educators who have drawn on their experiences to address challenges faced by students of color in their classrooms
  • To give teachers an opportunity to reflect and share ideas on the challenges raised by Northside educators
  • To allow teachers a chance to discuss how to incorporate Black history, literature, and poetry into the classroom and to create an affirming learning space for students from diverse backgrounds


Meet the workshop leaders

Gwen Atwater came to Chapel Hill, her husband’s hometown, after he got out of the military. Following a brief stint in customer service and time working in the school district’s administrative offices, she took a teaching job at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School in 1973. She became an FPG Elementary institution over the more than 30 years she was there and is still talked about with love and reverence by her former colleagues and students.

Listen to a clip from Ms. Atwater's oral history here.  https://archives.jacksoncenter.info/LH/LH_0120  




Freda Andrews is a daughter of Northside. Fostered by nurturing teachers, especially at Northside Elementary, she pursued a career in education. She was very involved in the Freedom Movement in Chapel Hill and credits local civil rights activists, including her grandfather, with shaping her character and values. She taught at Helena Elementary School in Person County in the difficult years following desegregation, then moved to Durham to teach at Fayetteville Street Elementary and Holt Elementary. Though officially retired, she continues to work as an interventionist at Oak Grove Elementary School in Durham.

Listen to a clip from Ms. Andrews' oral history here. https://archives.jacksoncenter.info/LH/LH_0186