Scholar and activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor to deliver W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Lecture

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This event has been postponed because of weather.

GREAT BARRINGTON — The invitation to bear the torch of the wisdom and words of W.E.B. Du Bois is neither for the thin-skinned, the meek nor the passive. Which is why Sara Mugridge is confident that Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor can and will hold her own Tuesday as Taylor delivers the 23rd W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Lecture at Bard College at Simon's Rock.

Taylor is an activist, scholar and author of the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize-winning book, "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation." She has also taught as assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University.

"Hers is one of the clearest, most brilliant voices out there right now calling for action informed by deep historical analysis, and articulating the need for coalition-building that never compromises resolve or loses sight of the goal of human liberation," said Mugridge, academic transitions adviser at Simon's Rock. "Dr. Taylor, like Dr. Du Bois, is very much an `activist-scholar' whose research, teaching, and mobilizing are committed to, and inspire action toward, racial and gender equity and economic justice for all."

Mugridge volunteers with Multicultural BRIDGE and the Du Bois Legacy Festival, which is sponsoring Tuesday night's lecture. She's also had the opportunity to hear Taylor speak in person.

Taylor received death threats after delivering her 2017 commencement speech at Hampshire College in Amherst, where she referred to President Donald Trump as a "racist, sexist megalomaniac."

She also told the graduating students: "This is not just about partisan battles over whether 'race or class' decided the presidential election; rather, it is recognizing, simply, that the political and economic status quo have failed, over and over again, to deliver a better way for the vast majority of people in this country. For too long, civility and good manners in electoral politics have passed as effective governance, hiding the mundane, daily struggles of ordinary people."

She went on to list those struggles, including the opioid crisis, racism, poverty, gun violence and wage disparities.

Despite criticism, Hampshire administration and students stood by their speaker.

Her talk at Bard College at Simon's Rock, "Building Black Lives Matter in the Trump Era," begins at 7 p.m. in the college's Daniel Arts Center, and will be followed by a book signing.

Mugridge said the writing and work of both Taylor and Du Bois are testament as to why two years ago the college formed a Council for Equity and Inclusion, led by Dean Eden-Renee Hayes, a psychology professor.

"This is long-term work in building relationships and creating solidarity within our community," Mugridge said.

Established in 1996, the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Lecture is given each year by a distinguished individual whose own achievements carry on the legacy of Du Bois, with recent visitors including David Levering Lewis, Lorene Cary, John Edgar Wideman, Sonia Sanchez and Penelope Andrews.


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