Ann Atwater Freedom Library
The Ann Atwater Freedom Library aims to lift up and carry on the legacy of Ann G. Atwater, a freedom teacher who indelibly shaped our vision of surprising friendships.
In addition to an archive on the life and work of Ann Atwater, we maintain a small a collection of fiction and nonfiction by and about figures in the American freedom struggle, primarily for young readers in the Walltown community.
Read about our 2015 opening in the News and Observer.
Throughout her life, Ann Atwater worked to empower poor and marginalized people to work together to create the change we want to see in our communities. We celebrate and support the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, as a movement through which we continue that work today.
“The Best of Enemies” Film
“The Best of Enemies” tells the story of Ann Atwater’s surprising friendship with local Klansman, C.P. Ellis.
Read our director, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, for the Washington Post on why the organizing tradition represented in “The Best of Enemies” is medicine America sorely needs.
For faith communities that want to reflect on the good news Ann taught and practiced, we have created a study guide to use before or after watching the film:
Together with our partners on The Best of Enemies Premiere Committee, we are also hosting special screenings of “The Best of Enemies” in Durham, North Carolina on March 19th at the Carolina Theater and on March 20th at Duke University. Please contact respective box offices for ticket information.
Meet the Real Ann Atwater
Learn more from the archive
Read Ann Atwater in her own words, reflecting on her friendship with C.P. Ellis at Durham’s The Herald Sun in 2013.
View a timeline of Durham history prior to the “Save Our Schools” charrette in 1971.
Learn more about Durham’s civil rights history the preceded the events portrayed in “The Best of Enemies.”
Access an extended oral history with Ann Atwater, recorded as part of research on the North Carolina Fund.
Read about the North Carolina Fund that trained Ann Atwater in community organizing and became a model for President Johnson’s War on Poverty.
Read what our director, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, learned about Christian social engagement from “Grandma Ann” Atwater in chapter six of his book Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom From Slaveholder Religion.