Listening Project to learn from 80 years of Charlotte Social Justice Organizing gets Launched

In Education, Holocaust, Social Change, Social Justice by Judy SchindlerLeave a Comment

On Monday, October 25, 2021, we gathered to launch our “Listening Project to learn from 80 years of Charlotte Social Justice Organizing: wins, losses and learning.”

We were blown away by the depth of sharing and wisdom in this first listening session!

If you were not able to join us live, the recording is available here. 

You can view the synthesis document of the feedback here. 

Do view a working draft of our research questionnaire click here.

To provide input on our process click here.

You are invited to engage in our Community-Based Research. Here’s the background:


  • Build relationships. Our connections with one another are the foundation of social change. Relationships are the source of support, shared celebration, and spiritual companionship in social change.
  • Practice conversations. This project can help us, and those we meet with, become more familiar with listening to others and learning from their experiences (and not just focusing on our opinions).
  • Identify potential leaders and supporters. By listening to people’s experiences about social justice, we can discover potential connections and opportunities to build community, and nurture social movement culture, equipping us to better move forward in our collective efforts for justice.
  • Learn about what’s on the community’s heart/mind. Racial justice can be tricky work! Communities are rarely of one heart and mind about something that runs so deep and is so complicated. Intentional listening of this kind can surface emerging hopes, concerns, and values around racial justice from which to build. (SURJ Listening Project Overview, pg.1)
  • Deepen understanding of community organizing in Charlotte. We seek to learn from the past and present of community organizing in Charlotte so that we can see historic patterns and learn lessons to guide the work of Charlotte organizers today and tomorrow.

Research Design:

This project has been designed by a team of activist scholars at the Stan Greenspon Holocaust and Social Justice Education Center with feedback from community members. Acknowledging the problematic and extractive nature of many types of research, the team opted to embrace community based research as the research style for the project.

Primary Investigator: Rabbi Judy Schindler, Rev Vahisha Hasan, Holly Roach Knight

What is Community Research?

From the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at San Francisco State University:

Community-based Research (CBR) takes place in community settings and involves community members in the design and implementation of research projects, demonstrates respect for the contributions of success that are made by community partners, as well as respect for the principle of “doing no harm” to the communities involved.

In order to achieve these goals, the following principles should guide the development of research projects involving collaboration between the researchers and community partners, whether the community partners are formally structured community-based organizations or informal groups of individual community members.

Principles of Community-Based Research:

  • CBR is a collaborative enterprise between researchers (professors and/or students) and community members. It engages university faculty, students and staff with diverse partners and community members.
  • CBR validates multiple sources of knowledge and promotes the use of multiple methods of discovery and of dissemination of the knowledge produced.
  • CBR has as its goal: to achieve social justice through social action and social change.
  • In most forms, CBR is also participative (among other reasons, change is usually easier to achieve when those affected by the change are involved) and it’s qualitative.

Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, San Francisco State University, Accessed October 22, 2021

Research Question:

How has the last 80 years of social justice organizing in Charlotte shaped social change and community organizing (SJCO) in Charlotte today?


“History is written by the victors,” a saying often attributed to Winston Churchill, speaks to something social movements struggle with. Shaping the narratives of social justice wins and losses can be a struggle for communities struggling to access the dominant means of storytelling in their context. In addition to shaping the narratives, communities often struggle to retain and transmit the wisdom and lessons learned from social justice organizing. A major lesson for a generation of organizers is not always relayed to a subsequent generation of organizers. The lack of formal structure and training in social movements tends to allow for gaps in collective knowledge. Informal movement building or Peoples’ History Projects are ways of collecting the lessons learned by organizers over the years and to tell the untold stories of organizing.


1- Online Survey

2- Recorded Interviews

Time Frame

Stage one – surveys and interview – 2021-2022 academic year

Stage two – analysis – Summer 2022

Stage three – report out event – Fall 2022

To view our first training click here:

To register to become a researcher or get engaged with this project, contact Rabbi Judy Schindler

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