The city of Greensboro has a rich history of exploring the residents’ quest for civil rights and social justice. Much of the College Hill neighborhood was home to protestant Christians who were also abolitionists during the Civil War Era. The International Civil Rights Museum houses the now defunct Woolworths diner where The Greensboro Four, comprised of Jibreel Khazan, formerly Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil, staged a monumental sit-in to protest segregation and Jim Crow laws during the Civil Rights Movements in 1960.
Additionally, many of Greensboro’s universities were among the first in the area to be provide adequate education to women and people of color at a time when these options were otherwise inaccessible.
Today, many Greensboro college students continue the pursuit of equality for all, staging protests, rallies and walk-outs to counter discrimination and inequities that many continue to face in the modern day.
Despite the advancements in technology allowing for social justice movements to spread like wildfire through social media and word-of-mouth, many who wish to contact the organizations who spearhead these movements have a hard time doing so. One graduating senior at UNCG, however, hopes to change that.
Jessica Clifford is a Communication Studies major and is currently the Arts and Entertainment Editor here at The Carolinian. As part of her Senior Disciplinary Honors project, Clifford created a website that combined her passion for social justice with her willingness to help the Greensboro community connect.
“I created ‘Voice, Activism, Democracy,’” said Clifford, “for the dual purpose of helping the community get involved in social justice movements in the area, and helping organizations reach out to those who want to support their movements.” Clifford explained that many people want to play an active role in the community, but don’t know how to get involved.
Luckily her website’s “community groups” section allows users to access profiles of over twenty social justice organizations based out of Greensboro. Users can access resources that help them get involved with various causes under the “get involved” section. Clifford hopes that the website will help members of the Greensboro community “do more than volunteer work and partake in action that is transformative and leads sustainable change.”
When asked if she is the first to create such a project, Clifford humbly replied, “No, I am not. The first project of this kind was started by the Peace and Justice Network, but that became defunct.” Clifford was not shy to give credit to her many mentors, and those who have helped her along the way to the inception of her website, “Voice, Activism, Democracy.”
“All of them have been a great help and inspiration to me,” said Clifford. “Their involvement with the community and the changes that they’ve help create have really inspired me. They were all so helpful in guiding me forward.”
Some of those who she gives credit to include former Peace and Justice Network member, Kathe Latham, Anna Fesmire of the League of Women Voters and project mentor and UNCG communications studies professor, Spoma Jovanovic.
Since Clifford is graduating in May, the website will be out of her control once she walks the stage. She hopes that the project will continue to be managed by upcoming students or interns from UNCG’s Department of Communication Studies.
“I hope that the efforts I’m putting forward will be continued and improved. I want the information to stay relevant and up to date, so that people who want to be active in Greensboro’s social justice movements can continue to use this resource” Clifford said.
She continued, “It’s hard to let go of something you created and worked [on] – you treat it like it’s your baby. But I have good faith in future students who will take the project over.”
Clifford’s aspirations for the future of her project also reflect those who have actively tried to improve the community and its conditions since social justice movements have been around. We may not be able to change the world at this very moment, but we are very capable of influencing new change, and continuing the efforts of those before us.
For more information on her website, visit https://voiceactivismdemocracy.weebly.com/.
If you wish to get in contact with Clifford, or know of any organizations in Greensboro that should be added to the list on “Voice, Activism, Democracy,” simply go to the “contact” section of the website at the top right corner of the banner, and fill out the form.