The celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was also the kick-off for a series of townwide events commemorating the 150th birthday of civil rights pioneer and author W.E.B Du Bois who was born in Great Barrington. Included in the article is a video of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial.
In his 1974 book, “The Glory and the Dream,” historian William Manchester writes: “It was an old southern custom for Negroes to surrender their seats to whites. It was also against the law for anyone to disobey a bus driver’s instructions. Mrs. Parks thought about it for a moment and then said she wouldn’t move.”
“We’re dealing with interesting dynamics right now because all the problems we have faced in the past now have little tentacles that are coming up in different ways.”
— Dr. Bernard Lafayette, from his remarks at the 20th Annual W.E.B. Du Bois lecture at Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Du Bois stands as a towering figure in American history. A product of the local public school, from which he was the first black graduate of the high school, and a fixture of several local institutions, his legacy here has nevertheless triggered debates.