Great Barrington should have a statue of W.E.B. Du Bois

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By Tuesday, Sep 26 Letters  14 Comments

W. E. B. Du Bois

To the Editor:

Let me toss out an idea: A statue of W.E.B. Du Bois in Great Barrington.

Du Bois was clearly the most celebrated resident in our history. His teachings and writings still resonate today.  To honor and memorialize him seems absolutely appropriate.

Since there is so much new construction going on in our downtown, this might be an optimal time for finding a site for such a statue.

Perhaps Chesterwood, the home of one of America’s greatest memorial sculptors, could be involved.

I am eager to hear what other residents think of this idea.

Daniel Klein

Great Barrington


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14 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Keith Garton says:

    Definitely! And he should be taking a knee!

  2. Howie Lisnoff says:

    Daniel Klein makes an excellent point that W.E.B. Du Bois’ legacy would be properly memorialized by a statue in his honor. Du Bois was a giant in the history of the fight for civil rights… a fight that continues to this day.

  3. Fran Cardiff says:

    Absolutely! A beautiul and powerful way to honor his far reaching legacy!

  4. Cynthia Pease says:

    Yes, yes, and yes to Daniel Klein’s suggestion that Great Barrington have a statue to WEB DuBois.

  5. Leonard Quart says:

    A fine idea, especially in the Trump era.

  6. Jim Johnston says:

    Maybe it can be tax payer funded, you know, since our taxes aren’t already absurdly high or anything.

    1. Tom Blauvelt says:

      Hi Jim, not sure what you mean by GB’s taxes being absurdly high. GB ranks towards the middle of the pack for towns in Berkshire County when it comes to the tax rate (see information below taken from the Department of Revenue for fiscal year 2017).

      DOR Code Municipality Fiscal Year Residential Commercial
      004 Adams 2017 $21.37 $24.55
      148 Lanesborough 2017 $20.89 $20.89
      070 Dalton 2017 $19.87 $19.87
      236 Pittsfield 2017 $19.63 $39.78
      209 North Adams 2017 $17.67 $38.65
      233 Peru 2017 $17.58 $17.58
      263 Savoy 2017 $17.07 $17.07
      341 Williamstown 2017 $17.04 $17.04
      150 Lee 2017 $14.72 $14.72
      267 Sheffield 2017 $14.68 $14.68
      113 Great Barrington 2017 $14.60 $14.60
      132 Hinsdale 2017 $14.09 $14.09
      313 Washington 2017 $14.04 $14.04
      345 Windsor 2017 $13.58 $13.58
      260 Sandisfield 2017 $13.29 $13.29
      326 West Stockbridge 2017 $12.48 $12.48
      058 Cheshire 2017 $12.39 $12.39
      152 Lenox 2017 $12.21 $15.06
      249 Richmond 2017 $11.02 $11.02
      022 Becket 2017 $10.54 $10.54
      203 New Marlborough 2017 $9.80 $9.80
      283 Stockbridge 2017 $9.70 $9.70
      098 Florida 2017 $9.53 $27.53
      090 Egremont 2017 $9.34 $9.34
      200 New Ashford 2017 $8.32 $11.75
      225 Otis 2017 $8.08 $8.08
      193 Monterey 2017 $7.30 $7.30
      302 Tyringham 2017 $7.00 $7.00
      195 Mount Washington 2017 $6.23 $6.23
      006 Alford 2017 $5.10 $5.10
      121 Hancock 2017 $2.94 $2.94

  7. Fleming Rutledge, Alford says:

    I for one would strongly support this proposal for a statue of W. E. B. du Bois, especially in this era of dispute about monuments. The real challenge would be to get a distinguished sculpture. The Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond (Virginia) was well-meant but is widely regarded as an artistic failure.
    (Ironically, and parenthetically, the statue of Stonewall Jackson in Charlottesville, surrounded by mature trees in Court Square [now Justice Park] and in recent years largely noticed only by connoisseurs, has been described as one of the greatest equestrian statues in the world and should have lasting recognition for that factor alone. It is currently shrouded in black and is due to be removed. )

  8. Pete says:

    Agree with the concept, but it should be a privately funded project.

  9. Joseph Method says:

    It’s a good idea. Maybe it could be near the AME church. I would do it as a privately funded project, through crowdfunding.

    1. Joseph Method says:

      Follow up: I would solicit designs, set up a committee to narrow them down, and then allow backers to have some saying in picking the final design.

  10. Diego Gutierrez says:

    Statues are nice, but there is already a couple of more meaningful sites and initiatives in Great Barrington that honors Du Bois:
    First, the W.E.B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite (or W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite) is a National Historic Landmark in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, commemorating an important location in the life of African American intellectual and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963). The site contains foundation remnants of the home of Du Bois’ grandfather, where Du Bois lived for the first five years of his life. Du Bois was given the house in 1928, and planned to renovate it, but was unable to do so. He sold it in 1954 and the house was torn down later that decade. The site is located on South Egremont Road (state routes 23 and 41), west of the junction with Route 71.

    This could be where a statue could go – but I would recommend that anyone interested in doing more to honor Du Bois, inform themselves about the second great project currently underway that will also honor him, in the context of the overall African-American history of Great Barrington and the Berkshires overall. This project is the restoration of the Clinton AME Zion Church, at 9 Elm Court in town.
    The Clinton Church since its founding in 1886 has been a model of the Black Church which emerged after the Civil War and emancipation. A place of worship, education, political and social activism, and entertainment. It was the singular place where the African American community could come together to unite long-time residents of the community and newcomers from the South and chart its own destiny. And it was the institution whose pastors could and did speak for the African American community.

    It influenced the thinking of W.E.B. Du Bois about the central role of the church in the African American community. As a scholar he pioneered the study of the Black Church; his first experience with that church was as a youngster at the Clinton Church in the 1870s.

    In the twentieth century it was the mother church for three other Berkshire churches in Pittsfield, North Adams, and Great Barrington.

    In the 1950s and 1960s the church’s basement meeting room became a hive of social activism and ecumenism – planning meetings of the Berkshire Chapter of the NAACP, first office of the housing agency Construct, Inc., and activities of the United Church Women.

    To save this important landmark, the Clinton Church Restoration, a nonprofit organization, was formed to preserve and repurpose the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church. This group raised over $110,000 last fall which allowed it to buy the property and begin preliminary architectural and engineering studies, as well as stabilization of the structure. You can learn more at gbclintonchurg.org, or better yet, join us or donate to keep this project going. To volunteer or join one of our committees, email us at saveamechurch@gmail.com.

  11. Lee Cheek, Egremont says:

    Yes! It’s a good time to consider this because next year is Du Bois’ 150th anniversary. I echo Fleming’s concerns about aesthetics and Diego’s admonition to not lose sight of the restoration of the A.M.E church. Statues have meaning and Dr. Du Bois had meaning for the world beyond Great Barrington.

    1. Lee Cheek, Egremont says:

      Typo: 150th anniversary

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