Double shot of Du Bois

Posted
Monday, Feb. 22
GREAT BARRINGTON - In a few short years, civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois has gone from being almost unnoticed in this town to being almost overexposed.

Two separate local organizations, the Friends of the Du Bois Homesite and the W.E.B. Du Bois Center, have scheduled events on Saturday, Feb. 27, which would have been Du Bois' 142nd birthday. The trouble is, the events overlap somewhat, preventing residents and historians from attending both.

Beginning at 2:30 p.m., at the Clinton African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at 9 Elm St., Gene Dattel, author of "Cotton and Race in the Making of America" will speak. Dattel is a financial historian, author and lecturer, who serves on the board of advisers to the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Miss.

Following Dattel, Maurice Hobson of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst ( not to be confused with the Great Barrington Du Bois Center) and anthropologist Robert Paynter will update the audience on activities to promote the Du Bois legacy.

Refreshments will be served.

At 3 p.m., at Searles Castle on Main Street, local historian Bernard Drew and theater legend Edward Bullins will be honored. Bullins' play, "Clara's Ole Man" will be previewed, and a panel discussion regarding Bullins' work will follow.

Bullins is one of the country's most celebrated African-American playwrights and is presently a distinguished artist-inresidence at Northeastern University. He has won three "Obie" awards for distinguished playwriting, as well as two New York Drama Critics Awards and a host of other prizes.

Drew is one the community's most respected local historians, and author of a number of local history publications, including "Great Barrington: Great Town, Great History."

A reception following the panel discussion will be held at the Du Bois Center on South Street. Reservations will be required for the reception and are $20, $10 for students. For reservations and more information, call (413) 644-9595.

The clashing celebration appear to be the result of a lack of communication. Du Bois Center Director Randy Weinstein, said he had lined up his program several months in advance.

"I set his up a while ago," he said. "It's really, really too bad." Rachel Fletcher, a longtime member of the Friends of Du Bois, said that her organization had also scheduled the event several months in advance.

"It just didn't occur to me to check [ with Weinstein]," she said. "It's unfortunate."

The two organizations have existed in town for a few years now. Although both speak politely of the other, they don't communicate much, if at all.

"We should talk more," said a member of the Friends' Board of Directors. "It's a little embarrassing."


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