The Community Review Board

What is the Community Review Board?

The Community Review Board (CRB) is one of three community-first leadership teams guiding the work of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center. Along with the Community Compass Group, which makes strategic decisions on housing initiatives, and the Community Mentor Team, which directs and participates in educational initiatives, the Community Review Board provides critical oversight of and input on public history initiatives, including the development of the oral history site, From the Rock Wall: Living Histories of Black Chapel Hill/Carrboro and related public history projects.

Oral history is at the heart of everything we do at the Center. We understand oral history as, among other things, a critical reflection in the present on the usefulness of the past. The experiences, vision, and values communicated in oral history are our signposts for developing equitable and inclusive neighborhoods, encouraging area youth to rise to the example of their elders, and engaging a broad public in the Jackson Center’s mission to honor, renew, and build the Northside, Pine Knolls, and Tin Top communities.

In collaboration with Northside/Pine Knolls neighbors more broadly, CRB members lead the development and representation of community histories and participate in developing those histories for public engagement as they wish.

Who are the members of the Community Review Board?

Kathy Atwater (Co-Chair)

CRB_0001.jpgKathy is a 4th generation resident of the Northside Community of Chapel Hill, NC.  A renowned community leader, she has lived in the community all of her life.  Kathy’s great grandfather, Abe Bynum, was freed from enslavement in the area in the mid-1800s.  His daughter and Kathy’s grandmother, Nannie Bynum, married Fred Weaver, after whom Weaver Street in Carrboro was named.  They had twelve children of whom Kathy’s mom, Bettie Weaver, was one.  Kathy was adopted by Bettie and her second husband, Caesar “Cecil” Atwater, at ten months of age.  Bettie’s brother and sister-in-law, Bynum and Susie Hackney Weaver, together ran the Bynum Weaver Funeral Home on Graham Street (present day Knotts Funeral Home) and Weaver grocery store and beauty parlor at the foot of Orange County Training School.  

Kathy’s biological mother had ten children who are all very close and tight-knit to each other. 

None of her siblings went far.  Five remain in and around Chapel Hill:  Randel, Richelle, Wanda, Quintella and Elliot; four more--Verna, Johnifer, Janace, and Markeitha—live in various parts of the Piedmont.  Kathy’s family includes cousins in many prominent, local families, including the Atwaters, Alstons, Bynums, Weavers, Hargraves, Battles, Merritts, Riggsbees, Thompsons, and Edwards.  Like many of her cousins, Kathy was brought up in the church: “Most of my family--if they weren’t at First Baptist, they were at St. Paul.” 

Soon after Kathy graduated from NCCU in 1978, she began work at Memorial Hospital (now UNC Hospitals) in the Medical Records department.  She went on to become an Administrative Assistant in the Nursing Department and then in the Department of Surgery, where she worked with the Chair of the department for twenty years.  In 2008, she began a two-year stint at her current church, the Christian Faith Center in Creedmoor, where she got to enjoy her passion for theatre as the director of the drama program.  She returned to UNC in 2012 to work in the Grand Reading Room (now Fearrington Reading Room) at Wilson Library.  In 2017, she found her work home at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, where she proudly serves as the Community Advocacy Specialist.  

Kathy carries her mother’s commitments to truth-telling and kindness wherever she goes and thinks of herself, first and foremost, as a child of God.  She is respected throughout the community for living her primary philosophy of life--do unto others as you would have them do unto you—all day, every day.  

Jane Atwater Garrett

CRB_0004.jpgJane Garrett carries a proud heritage: she is the great granddaughter of the Reverend Dr. Louis Henry (L.H.) Hackney who came to Chapel Hill in his early twenties looking for a church to serve. Born in 1854 in Chatham County, where his parents were enslaved by Joshua and Harriet Stone Hackney, L.H. soon found his calling at Rock Hill Baptist Church, now known as First Baptist, where he served from 1877 until 1937. In 1892, he graduated from Shaw University, and was later honored with a doctorate. Responding to the lack of opportunities for Black students to learn beyond the 7th grade, in 1913, L.H. founded Hackney High School, the first Black-owned school in the area. In 1917, “Hack’s High” (Rev. Hackney was the principal and one of two history teachers) merged with the Freedmen’s or “Free” School to become Orange County Training School and soon: Northside Elementary and Lincoln High. An educator and minister, Rev. Hackney was also well known for his care and mentorship of orphaned and poor children in Chapel Hill. Jane still lives on land he acquired on Merritt Mill Road.

As Jane says, “all my life, all I’ve known is Chapel Hill.” Her parents, Veora Lillian Hackney Atwater and James Atwater Jr., live in Carrboro. Jane remains a devoted member of First Baptist and, following her great grandfather’s example with the Masons, is also a member of the Eastern Star.

Jane’s parents were “adamant about integration” and “sticklers for education.” In second grade, she was one of only a handful of Black students at Carrboro Elementary. And when she didn’t live up to the family standards, her father took over—assigning his own homework and administering tests at home. Of course, Jane soon became an exemplary student, graduating with honors and top rankings in her major, Urban Affairs, at Winston-Salem State University. Soon after graduation in 1978, she joined the Orange County Planning Department where she retired as a Planner in September 2009. As a Planner, Jane was keenly aware of how—through the 1970s-- friends lived in homes with dirt floors “right in downtown Chapel Hill”. She worked to secure water and sewer for neighbors in unincorporated areas and, with developers, to provide affordable housing projects that served many Black families.

Jane is an avid servant leader. She is Chair of the Trustee Ministry and Vice-Chair of the Deaconess Ministry at FBC, an active member of her sorority Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., member of First Baptist and Manley Estates Board of Directors, and—among many other roles—a member of the community Compass Group that oversees the Northside Neighborhood Initiative. She is also the proud mother of Kyree Garrett, who got much of his inspiration to work in Parks and Recreation from Nate Davis at Hargraves, with whom he started working as a teenager. Jane is married to Donnell Turner Garrett, also from Chapel Hill. She carries on the traditions of determination and self-sufficiency that she learned from her parents and the legacy of service left by her great grandfather: “I’ll do anything I can to help others and I have joy in doing so: I’m doing it from my heart.”

Mae McLendon

CRB_0005.jpgMae was born in the little town of Red Springs, NC. Her mother moved her “kicking and screaming” to Orange County in 1964.  She now cannot imagine living anywhere else. 

She was educated in the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. She earned a B.A. in Sociology and a Master of Social Work from UNC- Chapel Hill, where she was an active member of the Black Student Movement and participant in the food service workers strike in 1969.  Her employment history includes working with the NC Department of Correction (now Public Safety) where she retired with more than 25 years of service. She has worked as the Volunteer Coordinator for Durham County Cooperative Extension, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, and Interfaith Council for Social Service, and now works part-time as the Community Connector for the Marian Cheek Jackson Center and as a Facility/Activity Supervisor for the Town of Carrboro’s Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Resources Department.

Mae learned from her mother about giving back and practices “what she preaches”. Some of her past civic activities include service on the Chapel Hill Planning Board, the Orange County Board of Social Services, the Board of Directors of Inter-Faith Council for Social Services, and the NC Inmate Grievance Resolution Board.

Her current activities include serving as the Coordinator of the Planning Committee for the Chapel Hill Carrboro CROP Hunger Walk and as a member of the Orange County Affordable Housing Advisory Board.  She is very active in her church, St. Paul A.M.E. in Chapel Hill, where she serves as a member of the Steward Board, member of the Usher Board, member of the Duhart-Clark Women Missionary Society, the unofficial photographer, and the editor of an e-newsletter that she started and sends out weekly to members.

She has been active in local politics since 1968 serving in various positions on the precinct, county and state level. Her association memberships include NAACP (Chapel Hill – Carrboro Branch); American Correctional Association; NC Correctional Association; NC Association of Volunteer Administration, and State Employees Association of NC.  

Her many awards and recognitions include the Marsha Riddle Lifetime Achievement Award from the NC Association of Volunteer Administration, the Irene Briggarmen Lifetime Achievement Award from Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, the Mildred Berkley Outstanding Service Award, Inter Faith Council for Social Service, the Rebecca Clark Community Service Award from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Branch NAACP, the Mary C. Terrell Service Award from National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the H. G. “Gus” Moeller Outstanding Service Award from the NC Correctional Association, and the Outstanding Contributor to Volunteerism from the International Association of Justice Volunteerism.  

Mae is the daughter of the late Amos and Martha McLendon.  She had two sisters Hattie Miles (deceased) and Helen Galbreath.  She is the proud mother of Anissa “Niecy” McLendon.

Chaitra Powell (Co-Chair)

CRB_0006.jpgChaitra is the daughter of two United States Air Force veterans. Her father Larry Powell was born in Northampton County, North Carolina and her mother, F. Marie Flanagan hailed from Scott County, Mississippi. They were married in 1982, and had three children while stationed in the Netherlands. Within a few years, they both exited the military and chose to raise their family in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Chaitra grew up in Phoenix and attended The University of Arizona (Tucson) for her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Masters Degree in Library Science. Upon graduation, Chaitra discovered a passion for African American archives. Between 2011 and 2014, she moved from Phoenix, to Chicago, and Los Angeles in pursuit of experience in these collections. Her travels exposed her to the materials of the HistoryMakers (oral history program), Johnson Publishing Company Photo Archives, DuSable Museum of African American History, California African American Genealogical Society, Mayme Clayton Library and Museum, and the California African American Museum. 

Chaitra's time at the Mayme Clayton Library and Museum defined her perspective on community-based collections and engagement with archives. The museum's founder, Mayme Clayton devoted her life to the preservation of African American materials and in the years after she died, Chaitra was a part of the team that helped to catalog and engage the public in Clayton's collection. The work was dynamic and tactile and demonstrated the joy and empowerment that comes from owning your own narrative. 

Although Chaitra's work in Chapel Hill did not officially begin until her hire by UNC Libraries in 2014, she would say her journey in the Northside community started in 2007 when her first cousin married one of Mrs. Marian Cheek's Jackson's granddaughters in the Hargraves Community Center. Chaitra's mother (deceased in 2010) and father (deceased in 2012) attended this wedding together, and Chaitra cherishes the images from that beautiful day. Knowing that her parents drove down Graham street where Chaitra currently lives with their amazing grandchildren is a comfort every day.

In her position as the African American Collections and Outreach archivist in Wilson Special Collections Library, Chaitra is engaged in collection development activities for the Southern Historical Collection. She is also serving as the Project Director of a four year Community Driven Archives grant, funded by the Mellon Foundation. Building on her foundations in community archives, this grant explores tools and strategies that aim to help large institutions like UNC Libraries form meaningful partnerships with community historians and collectors.   

Chaitra is proud to serve on the MCJC Community Review Board to provide insights from her professional experience and learn about the rich history of this community from the contributions of her kind and generous neighbors.

Jacqueline Battle Pratt

Jacqueline is the eldest daughter of civil rights activist Fred Battle and Angeline Wyrick Battle.  Jacqueline has lived in Chapel Hill all her life and is a 1984 graduate of Chapel Hill High School.   Among many honors, she was one of the very first recipients of the R. D. and Euzelle Smith Scholarship.  She received a Full Academic Scholarship to Shaw University, majoring in Kinesiotherapy and Adapted Physical Education with minors in Psychology and Biology and graduated Cum Laude.  Jacqueline attended NC Central and received a Master of Education in Special Education, and has held several certifications, graduating Cum Laude.  Jacqueline was a certified, public school Exceptional Children’s teacher for over 25 years and is also certified In Middle School Language Arts.  She was a “school mom” and taught at McDougle Middle School from 1998 - 2016.  When Jacqueline retired, she enjoyed being a homeschool teacher in 2016-2017.   Jacqueline was Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church from 1985-1987 under the leadership of Rev. Dr. J. R. Manley.  In 1989 she was licensed and ordained by Pastors Mack and Brenda Timberlake, Jr. at Christian Faith Center in Creedmoor, NC.  Jacqueline is also a writer and publisher and continues to do research regarding her own family history as well as the history of others.  

Collene Riggsbee Rogers

CRB_0007.jpgCollene was born and grew up in her family’s home on Merritt Mill Road.  Her mother, Mary Neville Riggsbee, grew up on the Neville Farm in Orange County and her father, Walter Riggsbee, grew up on the Riggsbee Farm in Chatham County.  In the mid-1930s, they each left home to work for the University laundry in Chapel Hill, where they met.  After graduating from Durham Business College in 1965, Collene accepted a job in New York, later joining First National City Bank then retiring from Citibank in 1999.  She returned to North Carolina and built a home on the land her grandmother, Nancy Mebane Neville, fiercely refused to sell, despite threats and intimidation. “She was a very strong woman and she wasn’t going to give in,” Collene recalls.  As a child, Collene attended both her mother’s family church, Hickory Grove Baptist, and her father’s, First Baptist: “It was always church!” She is still a dedicated member of FBC.  Collene attributes her community commitment—including twenty years of service with the NAACP, and Women of Distinction—to her father who embodied a communal ethic she saw everywhere around her growing up: “they took care of each other.”  Her father worked at the laundry to save enough money to buy a truck that would allow him to bring carpentry, wiring, and plumbing services to families in rural Chatham and Orange.  But when management refused to give him his savings, he left anyway and, with the help of friends and family, began providing every kind of trade service. He left a powerful legacy of self-determination and care: “He taught himself everything and he helped everybody.”  “That’s the thing I respected him so much for,” Ms. Collene notes. “He put other people before himself and never had any regrets.”  As long as someone would drive, he continued to do the work after he lost his sight. He couldn't see but he said he could feel.