Posted on April 28, 2021
By Elisha McCloskey, JaRiah Morris and Rattachat Tiger Suwanmanee
Glenn Perkins, a community leader in Greensboro, has partnered with the UNCG-based National Communication Association’s (NCA) Center for Communication, Community Collaboration and Change to amplify the voices of the Greensboro community. Perkins, along with being an editor and writer, has his own achievements that bring the Greensboro community together. Perkins has created a space for community voices to be heard through a project called Democracy Tables, funded by the NCA grant.
Perkins, the Curator of Community History at the Greensboro History Museum, is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, Columbia, and Yale University. Perkins has a passion for informing the Greensboro community of its history and how it influences Greensboro’s present story. He believes that teaching and having discussions in the Greensboro community will help people, specifically youth, learn the history of voting in this area. He explains that youth have been an important force of transition in Greensboro. An example is the Greensboro Four and other sit-ins that inspired change. If youth understand Greensboro’s and this country’s history, they may feel inspired to vote and be a part of this change.
With the NCA grant, Democracy Tables have been used to expose citizens to diverse experiences while also pushing them to create change. Democracy Tables has already addressed topics like voter registration and voting rights in the first session, and Perkins plans to expand these topics to include that of the police, community and justice, and housing and equity.
A participant from the first session said, “I really enjoyed this! Conversations about politics and voting are something I typically avoid because I’m still educating myself. It was nice to talk and learn without feeling judged for not being as informed as other people.” This feedback shows that the Democracy Table sessions do not expect participants to be extremely knowledgeable, but hope to spread valuable information.
Perkins explains that Democracy Tables has many benefits for the community, and particularly Greensboro. During his interview for the grant project, Perkins says that when there are stronger conversations among community members, this leads to a stronger, more resilient community. By having these conservations and becoming more aware of differences, communities in Greensboro will hopefully take steps of progress when it comes to voting, justice, and housing and equity.
In his role as curator, he and his colleagues recently put together a virtual exhibit for Black History Month called the “Pieces of Now”. This exhibit is a combination of pieces from the Greensboro Black Lives Matter movement. Perkins says that this exhibit is “a chance for us to amplify stories of African Americans and their contributions to Greensboro history. It’s one of the most important parts of the story for our city.”
As you can see, Glenn Perkins is highly involved in making the Greensboro community a more connected, cohesive, and communicative place. He has established himself as a strong community leader, and views leadership from a collaborative standpoint. Perkins said, “leadership can be a lot about listenership, being able to be aware of what conversations are going on around you and being able to link different people.” His dedication to community building seems to be settled in the idea of sending clear messages and giving opportunities to community members to hear these messages.
For more information about Democracy Tables and how you can become involved, please visit the website GreensboroHistory,or their partnered website with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. You can also visit the Facebook page “NCA Center for Communication, Community, Collaboration, and Change” for more information, and to directly watch past sessions.
Elisha McCloskey is a senior at UNC Greensboro, with a Communication Studies and Sociology major and a History minor. After graduating she plans to spend time at nonprofits located in the Greensboro area. She is interested in seeing how community leaders are positively impacting communities in Greensboro.
JaRiah Morris is a Senior Communication Studies student at UNC Greensboro. She has a minor in Spanish and plans to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration after graduating this spring. She wrote this piece because she admires community leaders who are working to make a difference and believes they should be recognized for their work.
Rattachat Tiger Suwanmanee is a Senior, Communication Studies major, and English minor. He is looking forward to seeing the community coming together by making connections, listening and learning from each other, building a stronger relationship, and developing leadership together as a community.