Jennifer Tabakin, Town Manager
334 Main St.
Great Barrington, MA 01230
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Great Barrington to Kick Off Du Bois 150th Festival
Town Native W.E.B. Du Bois to be Honored
GREAT BARRINGTON — The Selectboard is pleased to announce that the Town of Great Barrington is among several sponsors of a celebration of the 150th birthday of town native W.E.B. Du Bois.
Du Bois was born in Great Barrington on Feb. 23, 1868, and grew up in town, where he graduated from high school as valedictorian.
He later became a seminal figure in the American civil rights movement, and dedicated his entire adult life to addressing issues of racial inequity. His work was marked by his founding membership and decades of leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and as an influential editor for multiple publications, including the NAACP’s monthly magazine, “The Crisis.”
Du Bois was a prolific writer who published 21 books of his own, edited an additional 15 and published more than 100 essays and articles, according to the NAACP.
As part of a multifaceted celebration of his 150th birthday, Great Barrington will kick off its Du Bois 150th Festival later this month. The festival will continue throughout the early part of this year with a variety of events and showcases honoring Du Bois.
“Celebrating Du Bois for the 150th anniversary of his birth is what our nation needs at this time. He was a man before his time who thought boldly about gender, race, poverty and the complexity of identity and consciousness,” Du Bois 150th Committee Co-Chair Gwendolyn VanSant said. “Du Bois wrote to inquire and to catalyze activism. He stood for what we all believe in–good, accessible and progressive education; racial awareness and equality; civil rights for all; and, later in his life, economic justice.”
“W.E.B. Du Bois had a broad and lasting impact on our country, and as his home town it’s a tremendous honor to celebrate his legacy,” Selectboard Chair Sean Stanton said. “I’m proud of the tremendous work so many have done to pay tribute to one of our most famous residents, and I hope everyone will capitalize on the opportunity to learn more about Du Bois and the remarkable work he did throughout his lifetime.”
Throughout his life, Du Bois maintained his connection to Great Barrington. His children were born in town, and both are buried at the Mahaiwe Cemetery. The W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site is also located in Great Barrington.
“It is such an honor to represent the birthplace and home of a leader and civil rights pioneer such as W.E.B. Du Bois. One hundred fifty years after his birth, his work and legacy are still respected and upheld across the nation,” State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli said. “It’s one of the many things that make me most proud to be from the Berkshires. I look forward to celebrating this significant occasion with neighbors and visitors alike as we get together to honor a great man right here at home.”
The festival will recognize Du Bois’ life and work, and Du Bois 150th subcommittees are working to create lasting tributes to Du Bois in three key thematic areas: understanding Du Bois, celebrating Du Bois and creating legacy efforts that will keep his passions and virtues alive within his home community.
In addition the the events scheduled throughout 2018, Great Barrington will recognize Du Bois downtown with pole banners paying tribute to four of his core values — progressive education, racial equity, civil rights and economic justice — as well as by displaying art from the University of Massachusetts archives that chronicle his life.
Work to develop other lasting tributes to Du Bois remains ongoing, as well.
“I see Du Bois’s legacy impacting Great Barrington every day, reflected in its valued environment, schools, businesses, the arts, and governance,” Du Bois 150th Committee Co-Chair Randy Weinstein said. “Du Bois remains relevant, and this is at the heart of why we’re honoring him.”
The events in January and February are part of a broader celebration that will also feature activities in March, April and July. For more extensive information about the schedule and individual events, visit dubois150th.com.
Du Bois 150th is the result of a collaborative effort by numerous organizations, including Multicultural BRIDGE, Greylock Federal Credit Union, The Du Bois Center at Great Barrington, the Triplex Cinema/Richard Stanley and Umass Amherst.
The Du Bois National Historic Site was established in 2009 and is maintained by a group of partner organizations — Housatonic Heritage, Friends of the W.E.B. Du Bois Home Site, Clinton AME Zion church, River Park Walk and the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail. The Umass Amherst W.E.B Du Bois Center serves as the custodian of the site.
- Monday, Jan. 15: Martin Luther King Interfaith Service, 12 p.m. at the First Congregational Church
- Thursday, Jan. 18: Festival Exhibit and Gallery Walk. Opening Reception and unveiling of Du Bois mural and “Young Writers for Justice,” 3:30-5 p.m. at the Triplex Cinema (70 Railroad St.), Town Hall and Mason Library
- Friday, Jan. 19: Staging of the play, “W.E.B Du Bois: A Man for All Time,” 6-10 p.m. at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St.
- Saturday, Feb. 10: “The Enduring Legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois” with Dr. Jamall Calloway, hosted by the Great Barrington Historical Society, 3-5 p.m. at Searles Castle, 389 Main St.
- Sunday, Feb. 11: Du Bois Musical Tribute, 3 p.m. at Saint James Place (suggested donation of $10)
- Sunday, Feb. 18: Du Bois Reflections with BRIDGE, Macedonia Baptist Church and Harmony Homestead, featuring a Du Bois Boyhood Site Walk, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (this event will be repeated on a second date that has yet to be determined).
- Monday, Feb. 19: Screening of the film “Du Bois in Four Voices,” 7 p.m. at Berkshire South Regional Community Center, 15 Crissey Road
- Friday, Feb. 23: “Prologue to Greatness: W.E.B. Du Bois and Great Barrington” with David Levering Lewis; “Sounding the Trumpet: Celebrating W.E.B. Du Bois” with Cornell William Brooks; “The Soul Within: A Tribute to W.E.B. Du Bois” with Craig Harris, 1-3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church
- Friday, Feb. 23: Festival Walk and Mural Presentation, all day at Town Hall and the Mason Library
- Friday, Feb. 23: Du Bois Educational Series Birthday Presentation, “Du Bois and the Emergence of the Civil Rights Movement” with Dr. Reiland Rabaka; 7-9 p.m., Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St.