The Town of Great Barrington, together with community partners, welcomes nationally-renowned artists and scholars to the Berkshires for the 3rd Annual W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Festival this February.
Great Barrington, Mass. (Feb. 14, 2020)–The Town of Great Barrington W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee has announced another stellar lineup of events for the 3rd Annual Du Bois Legacy Festival to take place on the weekend of Du Bois’ 152nd birthday, Feb. 22-23.
“Each year we celebrate Du Bois with scholars and artists from the local area and also throughout the country to uplift the values of W.E.B. Du Bois in his hometown,” says Gwendolyn VanSant, Legacy Committee Vice Chair. “In Great Barrington, we celebrate his commitment to racial equity, civil rights, progressive education, and economic justice. We are joined by partners who uphold a commitment to these values in the workplaces and in our shared Berkshire community.”
This year, the program centers around Du Bois commitment to progressive education. “As an educator, Du Bois’ impact has been profound,” explained Randy Weinstein, Legacy Committee chair. “His works like The Souls of Black Folk have become springboards of the reflective mind, his lasting gift to our community readying to celebrate his 152nd birthday.”
The festival kicks off with the exhibit, “Du Bois: An Enduring Educational Legacy,” created by The Du Bois Center, at the Mason Library for the duration of February. Then, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church (251 Main Street, Great Barrington) the event takes a deep dive into the songs, poems, and text that make up Du Bois’s 1903 The Souls of Black Folk. A trumpet and voice performance, led by Donna Gouger and Bob Paynter, Ph.D. with MaryNell Morgan, Ph.D., and Barbara Dean, will accompany the community read. A book discussion follows, facilitated by VanSant, who is also CEO of BRIDGE, and Stephanie Wright, Legacy Committee member.
Free copies of The Souls of Black Folk are available at BRIDGE in Lee, The Du Bois Center, Mason Library, Macedonia, Great Barrington Town Hall, First Congregational Church, Great Barrington, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Jacob’s Pillow, and more locations around the county. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for your copy while books last.
On Saturday evening, at 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, and 8:30 p.m, at the Daniel Arts Center on the campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, San Francisco-based choreographer, director, and performance innovator Joanna Haigood will present a performance installation, Between me and the other world. This free performance installation is a dynamic exploration of The Souls of Black Folk, created in collaboration with composer Anthony Brown, Ph.D., video artist David Szlasa, and scenic designer Sean Riley. This recontextualization of Du Bois’ ideas through live performance, contemporary imagery sourced from current events and a sonic terrain that travels spirituals, jazz, and a 21st century postmodern soundscape invites audiences to move through the space between projections, dancers, and vantage points.
The performance installation is preceded by a panel discussion with Haigood, VanSant, and community leaders at 6:00 pm. The panel of community leaders includes Dennis Powell, President of NAACP Berkshire County Branch; Frances Jones-Sneed, MCLA Professor Emeritus; Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Director, W. E. B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst; and MaryNell Morgan, Ph.D.
After each performance installation, until 10:30 p.m., there will be interactive spaces for community discussion and reflection on the dance., with trained facilitators. The event is presented by Jacob’s Pillow and the Town of Great Barrington Du Bois Legacy Committee with a list of partners and sponsors including but not limited to Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Berkshire County NAACP, Berkshire Bank Foundation, BRIDGE, MCLA Presents! and MCLA Institute for the Arts and Humanities. The event is free (donations welcome), but reservations are required.
On Sunday, Feb. 22, Du Bois’ 152nd birthday, there will be a church service in Du Bois’ childhood church led by Rev. Tara Tezlaff and her life partner Rev. Sloan Letman at 10:30 a.m. at the First Congregational Church with fellowship to follow. The Du Bois Legacy Festival culminates in a celebration of the scholar-activist’s legacy in scholarship, progressive education and community activism. Morning services at First Congregational Church will reflect on Du Bois, followed by fellowship with Macedonia and BRIDGE. At 1:00 p.m. First Congregational will host a birthday program, with town leaders, Legacy Committee members, Jeffrey Peck, Du Bois’ great grandson, Joanna Haigood and Zaccho Dance Theatre and a panel of scholars curated by Emily Williams, Ph.D. The panel will be moderated by Karl Johnson, Ph.D. of Ramapo College that brings together in conversation a range of honored guests and speakers, including Danille Taylor, Ph.D. of Clark Atlanta University, sculptor and professor, Ayokunle Odeleye Ph.D, and Dr. Chenzira Davis-Kahina, director of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center, University of the Virgin Islands. Town of Great Barrington Du Bois Legacy Committee members Leah Reed and Gwendolyn VanSant will facilitate the reflection and community discussion that follows.
This year’s festival represents a collaboration between The Town of Great Barrington Du Bois Legacy Committee and community partners Jacob’s Pillow, BRIDGE, The Du Bois Center of Great Barrington, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, First Congregational Church, Great Barrington, Macedonia Baptist Church and the NAACP Berkshire County Branch, with generous support from sponsors: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, BRIDGE, Jacob’s Pillow, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and The Ford Foundation.
The full schedule of events and a flyer can be found below. For more information, please visit duboislegacy.com
–Saturday, February 22, 2020 First Congregational Church, Great Barrington–
1:30-4:30pm “The Souls of Black Folk”: Learning the Songs, Poems, and Text Drawn from: Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963 Poems and music from The Souls of Black Folk, 1903
Musical accompaniment by Donna Gouger, Bob Paynter, Ph.D. with MaryNell Morgan, Ph.D. and trumpet players with Barbara Dean
Community Book Club & Discussion, The Souls of Black Folk with Gwendolyn VanSant, Stephanie Wright and Sara Mugridge
Free copies of The Souls of Black Folk are available at BRIDGE in Lee, Du Bois Center, Mason Library, Macedonia, and First Congregational Church, Simon’s Rock, Jacob’s Pillow, and more. Email email@example.com for your copy while books last.
Books secured by Frances Jones-Sneed, Ph.D Gwendolyn VanSant and Barbara Dean
Performance Installation of Between me and the other world by Zaccho Dance Theatre at the Daniel Arts Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock
6-6:45pm Pre-Show Panel Discussion with Joanna Haigood moderated by Gwendolyn VanSant Panel Includes: Dennis Powell, President of NAACP Berkshire County Branch; Frances Jones-Sneed, Ph.D. MCLA Professor Emeritus; Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Ph.D. Director, W. E. B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst; and MaryNell Morgan, Ph.D.
7, 7:30, 8, 8:30pm Between me and the other world, An immersive performance installation by Zaccho Dance Theatre, choreographed by Joanna Haigood, exploring W.E.B. Du Bois’ seminal work The Souls of Black Folk.
Please note: In the performance installation, audiences are welcome to move around the space and meander between moving projections and dancers for different vantage points. Rotating performances loop every 30 minutes. This performance contains some violent imagery; parental discretion advised.
7:30-10:30pm Community Dialogue & Reflection
The performance installation is free to the public; donations welcome and benefit the W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee. The number of people that can be accommodated is limited; reservations are required. Visit jacobspillow.org to reserve today.
The Daniel Arts Center is located at 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington.
–Sunday, February 23, 2020, First Congregational Church, Great Barrington–
10:30am Church Service: Du Bois Reflections
12pm Fellowship with First Congregational, Macedonia Baptist Church and BRIDGE
1pm W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Festival Birthday Program
Presentation: The Souls of Black Folk and Between me and the other world with Joanna Haigood, Artistic Director of Zaccho Dance Theatre, Barbara Dean and Legacy Committee Members
Keynote and Panel Presentations: Emily Williams, Ph.D., Curator and MC of Du Bois Lecture Series
“W. E. B. Du Bois – The Atlanta University Years” Speaker: Danille Taylor, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Clark Atlanta University
“W. E. B. Du Bois’ Quest to Challenge Scientific Racism” Speaker: Deidre Foreman, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), Ramapo College of New Jersey
“Creating the Statue of W. E. B. Du Bois at Clark Atlanta University” Speaker: Ayokunle Odeleye, Professor of Art and Sculpture, Kennesaw State University and Odeleye Sculpture Studios
“Double Consciousness and Cultural Creatives: 2020 Vision in the Works of W. E. B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois” Speaker: Chenzira Davis-Kahina, Ph.D. Director, Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center (VICCC), University of the Virgin Islands
Panel Discussion moderated by Karl Johnson, Ph.D., Professor of African American Cultural Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey
Q&A and Community Reflections led by Leah Reed & Gwendolyn VanSant
Presented in partnership with Jacob’s Pillow, BRIDGE, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Du Bois Center of Great Barrington, First Congregational Church, Macedonia Baptist Church and NAACP Berkshire County Branch
Sponsors: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, BRIDGE, Jacob’s Pillow, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and The Ford Foundation.