We were honored to host a team of interdisciplinary scholars from Johnson C Smith University in October. An account of their trip appeared in the November issue of the JCSU News:
On Wednesday, October 25, eight members of the JCSU faculty and staff traveled to Chapel Hill to visit the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History (MCJC). The MCJC is located in the Northside community, a historically Black area of Chapel Hill.
The trip was sponsored by a grant from the Mellon Foundation entitled Teaching, Learning, and Solving Problems in the Interdisciplinary Humanities. Participants are part of a think tank focusing on marginalized voices. The group, which included Dr. Erin DiCesare, Dr. Cheryl Butler-Brayboy, Prof. Jasleen Kohli, Brandon Lunsford, Dr. Cindy Kistenberg, Dr. Della Pollock, Dr. Laurie Porter, Dr. Kareema Gray, and Dr. Keri Petersen, walked through the community and learned about its history from current and former residents on individual, portable devices, then were taken to the School of Social Work where staff from the MCJC led a workshop about the center and their approach to collecting histories.
The success and impact of the MCJC is inspiring. In addition to preserving history through narrative, the Center provides other services designed to maintain the community, such as offering small grants to help long-time residents pay rising property taxes, organizing workshops to help residents write wills to make sure their homes remain in their families, mobilizing volunteers to help with repairs, and educating children about the rich history of the community.
Ultimately, JCSU hopes to create something similar in the neighboring community of Biddleville.