By Terry Cowgill, Tuesday, Jan. 9th, Berkshire Edge
Du Bois 150th set to begin Monday, Jan. 15
Great Barrington — Plans to celebrate the 150th birthday of Great Barrington’s most famous resident have been finalized and will include a month’s worth of events and activities.
Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, who directs Multicultural BRIDGE and co-chairs the Du Bois 150th Committee, was on hand in Town Hall Monday night with Randy Weinstein, founder and director of the Du Bois Center at Great Barrington, to gain approval to mount banners on utility poles in town and to report on the progress the committee had made on celebrating the birthday of the iconic scholar and civil rights leader.
“We chose four core values to hold up for Du Bois,” VanSant said. “Racial equality, economic justice, civil rights and progressive education.”
The Great Barrington Selectboard listens to Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant deacribe the Du Bois 150th Festival and peruses the materials. From left to right: Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin, selectboard Chairman Sean Stanton, selectmen Steve Bannon and Dan Bailly. Photo: Terry Cowgill
Click here to see the calendar of events. The celebration starts with an interfaith service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 15, at the First Congregational Church on Main Street. The schedule concludes with a full day events Friday, Feb. 23, that includes talks by former NAACP President Cornell Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning Du Bois biographer David L. Lewis and a musical tribute featuring trombonist Craig Harris and others.
On that final day, there will also be a festival walk; a mural presentation by the Railroad Street Youth Project; exhibits honoring Du Bois in the Mason Library, the Great Barrington Historical Society and Town Hall; and the Du Bois Educational series at the Mahaiwe in the evening.
Also at the Mahaiwe Friday, Jan. 19, there will be a performance of Alexa Kelly’s one-man play featuring Brian Richardson and titled “W.E.B. Du Bois: A Man For All Time.” A discussion will follow featuring Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed, state Sen. Adam Hinds and John Bissell, who heads one of the Du Bois festival’s largest sponsors, the Greylock Federal Credit Union.
See video below of a scene from “A Man For All Time”:
And at the Berkshire South Regional Community Center Monday, Feb. 19. there will be a screening of the film “Du Bois In Four Voices.” Attending the screening will be Dr. Wesley Brown and Judge Harold Ramsey. There is also talk of erecting a statue downtown to honor Du Bois at some point.
“We just have a lot of great events lined up,” VanSant said.
Planning for the festival and celebration began in earnest last spring when more than 30 people got together on a Saturday morning in Town Hall to plan the blow-out.
“It’s going to be one for the ages,” added Weinstein. “It’s going to be unbelievable.”