Dear Berkshire County Educators and Parents:
This year, the town of Great Barrington is celebrating the 150th Birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, and we hope you will join us!
We are excited to share the story of Du Bois’s life and the importance of his work with Berkshire residents of all ages. We want to invite you to help us involve children and youth across the county by taking part in a Du Bois Young Writers for Justice Celebration.
Our theme is Global Justice Rooted in the Berkshires, and participation is open to elementary, middle and high school students.
How to Participate:
Below are resources for you to use to talk to your students/children about Du Bois, his life in Great Barrington, the values he fought for, and his legacy.
After learning about Du Bois, children and youth can become Young Writers for Justice by responding to any of the writing prompts below. (Please either offer an option, or select a prompt that is suitable for the class and age range.)
We will be kicking off the Du Bois 150th Festival on Thursday, January 18th at 3:30 pm with a festival walk and party at the Triplex theater, where we will celebrate our Du Bois Young Writers for Justice! All children, youth, families and friends are invited to join the party!
Writers who would like to read their work should send their submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day on January 16th and arrive at the Triplex at 4:00 to confirm their spot. We will reserve spots in each of the three age ranges: elementary, middle, and high school.
5. We are also asking young writers (all writers, not exclusively those who read aloud on 1/18) to submit their work to be included in a special online zine/anthology created for the town’s celebration. Submissions can be sent to email@example.com by February 16th for inclusion in the zine.
Together, let’s honor the legacy of a remarkable Great Barrington-born American hero and celebrate the voices of our remarkable young writers!
— Stephanie Wright & Sara Mugridge,
Volunteers with the Town of Great Barrington Du Bois 150th Committee with co-chairs Multicultural BRIDGE & The Du Bois Center
About W.E.B. Du Bois:
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, a great American writer, historian, sociologist and civil rights activist, was born in Great Barrington on February 23, 1868. He graduated valedictorian from Searles High School in Great Barrington before going to college at Fisk University in Tennessee and completing graduate studies at the University of Berlin and Harvard.
Du Bois became a professor and prominent voice for equal rights. Rooted in the Berkshires, his vision for justice was global; he was involved in the Pan-African Movement and later became an important peace activist. He was a member of the Niagara Movement, and in 1909, he helped co-found the NAACP, an organization dedicated to justice for African-Americans.
Du Bois was a prolific writer. He wrote scholarly articles, historical research, political treatises and addresses, autobiographical works, poetry and fiction.
Throughout his life, Du Bois fought for full self-determination and equal rights for Black people in America and People of Color worldwide. Until his death at 95 in 1963, he spoke out fearlessly and ceaselessly against racism, racial violence and oppression. Today we honor his work and commitment to the values he worked for: Racial Equality, Civil Rights, Economic Justice, and Progressive Education.
Website for the Du Bois 150th Festival: https://dubois150th.com
NAACP Biography: http://www.naacp.org/oldest-and-boldest/naacp-history-w-e-b-dubois/
UMASS Amherst Archives: https://www.library.umass.edu/locations/w-e-b-du-bois-center/
Du Bois National Historic Site Biography: http://www.duboisnhs.org/about-DuBois.html
W.E.B. Du Bois: Global justice rooted in the Berkshires
Please either select a single writing prompt appropriate for your class, or offer a selection.
How does living in your community in the Berkshires inspire you to make the world a better, fairer place?
We are celebrating the legacy of Du Bois and the values he fought for during his lifetime: Racial Equality, Civil Rights, Economic Justice, and Progressive Education.
Write a poem, essay, song, or personal reflection about one of these ideals.
Read Du Bois’s words below and respond. What are you resolved to do in the face of injustice?
I am resolved in this New Year to play the man — to stand straight, look the world squarely in the eye, and walk to my work with no shuffle or slouch
I am resolved to be satisfied with no treatment which ignores my manhood and my right to be counted as one among men.
I am resolved to be quiet and law abiding, but to refuse to cringe in body or in soul, to resent deliberate insult, and to assert my just rights in the face of wanton aggression.
I am resolved to defend and assert the absolute equality of the Negro race with any and all other human races and its divine right to equal and just treatment.
I am resolved to be ready at all times and in all places to bear witness with pen, voice, money and deed against the horrible crime of lynching and of Jim Crow legislation, the injustice of all color discrimination, the wrong of disfranchisement for race for sex, the iniquity of war under any circumstances and the deep damnation of present methods of distributing the world’s work and wealth.
I am resolved to defend the poor and the weak of every race and hue, and especially to guard my mother, my wife, my daughter and all my darker sisters from the insults and aggressions of white men and black, with the last strength of my body and the last suffering of my soul.