Now another movement to rename a different school building in Berkshire Hills is taking shape. Supporters of Du Bois are ramping up an effort to rename Monument Valley Regional Middle School in memory of Du Bois.
The exhibit, titled “W. E. B. Du Bois: Global Citizen Rooted in the Berkshires,” was put together by Randy Weinstein, who runs the Du Bois Center at Great Barrington, with the help of the other Du Bois Center—the one at UMass Amherst, where many of Du Bois’ papers are kept. The exhibit is part of the months-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of Du Bois’ birth.
Certainly Great Barrington can simultaneously recognize his flaws and faults while also finding ways to remember publicly, in a permanent way, his profound contributions to the struggle to push the United States to live up to its founding ideals, particularly regarding the plight of African-Americans.
Undoubtedly the greatest African-American intellectual in U.S. history and an activist who pioneered the modern civil rights movement and worked tirelessly for African peoples’ freedom throughout the world, Du Bois is long overdue for public recognition in Great Barrington and the nation. Yet like Banquo’s ghost, the controversy surrounding Du Bois — and particularly his political ideology and affiliation at the end of his life — will not go down.
The current voices against a statue of Du Bois again reduce Du Bois’s 95-years of life and writing to his two years as a member of the communist party. It is high time to put this charge in perspective.
Last month, the board of trustees of the town’s libraries endorsed the idea of putting a statue of the scholar, civil rights leader and Great Barrington native in front of the Mason Library on Main Street in the center of town. The project can only move forward if sufficient funds are raised and the Historic District Commission and the selectboard approve.
Not only are supporters of the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois trying to name one of the local public schools after him, but they want to commission a sculptor to come up with a life-sized likeness of him that would be placed on the front lawn of the Mason Library.
The birthday events for Great Barrington’s most famous native son seem to signal a newfound appreciation of the civil rights leader, who had not been fully embraced by the community because of his sometimes-controversial past.
A local couple who suffered tragedy returns, 26 years later, to offer seeds of healing and of hope to families who have lost a child. The Compassionate Friends (TCF) of the Berkshires, a national self-help organization for families that have had a child die, will hold its first monthly meeting on Friday January 5th at 7 p.m. at 275 Main Street in Sheffield.
Karen Smith is packing up 100 solar powered lights, “so people don’t have to buy kerosene every night, which is very expensive.” And much of what she is bringing, Smith says, comes from the “incredible generosity” of Berkshire locals and businesses. Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance, Fairview Hospital have donated medical supplies, and dentist Bob Edwards at Delair, Edwards & Krol, donated dental supplies.
For unknown reasons, Yolande’s grave was left without a headstone. Her grandchildren were unaware of where she was buried, until her grandson Arthur McFarlane II was informed of it during a visit in 2012.