CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte is stepping into the spotlight and taking center stage as the Democratic National Convention approaches.
Now one group of students from Johnson C. Smith University is working to make sure the eyes of the nation see the true stories of their historic Charlotte neighborhood.
The historically black college sits on the westside of Charlotte.
The area is rich in character, but the stories of the people who live there don't always make the news. Now they're going public.
"For a lot of people this is one of Charlotte's best kept secrets," said Dr. Laurie Porter, a professor of Mass Media Communications at JCSU.
Dr. Porter is heading up the new RUN DNC 2012 website.
The site was created by volunteers and highlights the history of the westside.
It includes a compilation of videos, interviews and pictures submitted by students who interview westside residents.
Students also share their own stories on videos they created themselves.
Jimmy Joyner created a short video for the site detailing his passion for basketball.
The freshman says the sport kept him out of trouble.
"It gave me the right skills, like discipline, respect, a great work ethic," said Joyner.
Jockuela Ballard, a JCSU cheerleader, posted a video about growing up in foster care.
She was adopted at age 20 by her cheerleading coach. Only now is she comfortable sharing her story.
"Hopefully it inspires others in a positive way just because it took me a long time to accept that I was in foster care," said Ballard.
These are the stories they want newcomers to learn from their website, stories of inspiration from people who live in West Charlotte.
Tamika Watts, a pre-med major, is sharing her story of being a role model for her 6-year-old niece.
"It's more to Charlotte then what you see on the news and it has a very, very rich background and it would be nice to share that with everybody," said Watts.
The site is still in the early stages, but Dr. Porter says students will add more stories and videos to the site in the upcoming months.
To view more student videos, log onto http://run-dnc-2012.org/ and click on the youtube icon.
WBTV supports the students efforts to inspire, educate and stimulate discussion in Charlotte.
Between now and the DNC, WBTV will share a number of the student videos on-air and online.