Northside Neighborhood to Host Annual Festival
The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History is holding its annual spring festival in the Northside neighborhood of Chapel Hill on April 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Northside Festival, previously named May Day Festival, is moving into the streets this year and aims to connect the community through free music, food, activities for kids of all ages—including a traditional maypole dance—and dedication of the new neighborhood gateway in honor of Northside’s Freedom Fighters.
"The festival is rooted in making connections across generations," says George Barrett, associate director of the Jackson Center.
The Northside Festival will take place on the front lawn of the Jackson Center and St. Joseph Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church and expand into the street space of West Rosemary between Roberson and Graham Street.
The festival is dedicated to connection among residents, local businesses, and area churches. All are invited to contribute to the chili and sides cook-off and the neighborhood dessert drive. The festival will feature gospel performances by choirs from St. Joseph C.M.E. and St. Paul’s A.M.E. and local legend, Mr. Prince Taylor. It will begin with a release of doves to pay tribute to Marian Cheek Jackson, followed by the Spring Graduation of the clients and advocates of the Community Empowerment Fund and dedication of the magnificent new neighborhood gateway at the corner of Rosemary and W. Roberson. The dedication will include an invocation by Rev. Kevin Brown, comments by Mayor Pam Hemminger and Senator Valerie Foushee, testimony and spoken word performance by local leaders, and collective songs of praise and freedom.
Freedom Fighters Gateway
A signature part of the Rosemary Street Improvement Project, the Freedom Fighters Gateway proudly marks the entry to Northside and to the historic Pottersfield and Sunset neighborhoods. Composed of hand-hewn Chatham stone, the gateway is inlaid with eight granite slabs etched with images of the civil rights struggle in Chapel Hill and related excerpts from oral histories of local leaders, all selected in a community-based, public curation process. The images are those taken by photo journalist Jim Wallace, some of which are now preserved in the National Archive. The gateway offers what one local, civil rights leader called “a beautiful glimpse” into the Freedom Movement. It is there to let people know--loud and clear--that they have entered a unique community of people who have struggled for freedom their whole lives and to inspire similar determination. As lifetime resident, Clementine Self, said: “The battle is not over. We have not yet overcome.”
The gateway project was a collaboration among the Town of Chapel Hill, the Jackson Center for Making and Preserving History, and St. Joseph’s C.M.E. Church. Funding for the project was derived primarily from the Town’s Streetscape Bond funds and the Chapel Hill Percent for Art Program.
Rosemary Street Improvement Project
During the dedication ceremony, Mayor Hemminger will acknowledge the completion of the $1.6 million street improvement project on Rosemary Street between Henderson Street and S. Merritt Mill Road. The Town of Chapel Hill bond-funded project includes widened sidewalks; improved sidewalk ramps to meet ADA standards; new pedestrian level light fixtures with LED lights; improved curb and gutter sections and driveway ramps; water and electrical hubs; and a repaved street. The Mayor will recognize and thank individuals who donated right-of-way easements that made the project possible, and will thank residents and businesses for their patience during construction.
Community Support for Northside Festival
The festival is made possible by the generous support of the Town of Chapel Hill, the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Empowerment Fund, the Sonja Haynes Stone Center, the Institute for African American Research, the UNC Office of Student Life, the Campus Y, Nourish International, Herban Gardens, and all of the neighbors and friends who contributed their invaluable time, energy, vision, and expertise.
Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History
The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History is a nonprofit that aims to renew, honor, and build community in the historically black Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Jackson Center's programs emphasize organizing, education, and celebration. Founded in 2008, the center now holds over 200 interviews with community members in its oral history archives. All of the Jackson Center's work is driven by the motto of its namesake, Marian Cheek Jackson: “Without the past, you have no future.”