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Northside Festival will celebrate community this Saturday

The festival will be from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Northside neighborhood.

George Barrett, associate director of the Marion Cheek Jackson Center, said the event celebrates the rich sense of community in the Northside neighborhood.

“It’s a great way for people to come together from all backgrounds — it’s a very intergenerational celebration and event,” he said. “You have long-term residents from Northside and Pine Knolls, as well as people from all over Chapel Hill like town officials, UNC students and business owners.”

This year, Rosemary Street will be blocked off between Graham and Roberson Streets. Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger is scheduled to speak about the completion of the improvements on Rosemary Street.

Additionally, a new gateway into the Northside neighborhood will be dedicated during the festival. It shows scenes of Chapel Hill Freedom Fighters during the civil rights struggle etched onto stone.

Barrett said the idea for the gateway came from residents over five years ago as a way to bring attention to the area.

“The neighbors strategized a way to mark the neighborhood, because a lot of times people like students wouldn’t know it is a historically African-American neighborhood,” he said.

The Community Empowerment Fund is one of the many community organizations partnering with the Jackson Center for the festival. Co-director Maggie West said a graduation ceremony will occur during the festival for CEF members who have graduated from opportunity classes, found jobs and reached savings goals.

“We’re excited to partner with the Northside Festival because it brings together such an array of community in an exciting and authentic celebration,” West said.

Nourish International, an organization based out of the Campus Y at UNC, is also a festival partner. Anastasia Soule, projects co-chairperson, said the Jackson Center embodies the community-based social justice model the club seeks.

“What’s so special about Northside is how community-centered it is,” she said. “With the encroachment of students that’s kind of being lost, and so we understand that students aren’t going to go away, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be part of the community.

The festival will celebrate all the good things that have happened in the Northside community in the last few years, Barrett said.

“It’s not just Northside’s history, it’s not just African-American history, but it’s about the history of Chapel Hill,” he said.


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