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.
Although one must be wary of the word “definitive” when describing any musical performance, overenthusiastic critics (there are a few) must be forgiven if they use such language to describe the orchestra’s widely praised Shostakovitch performances.
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.
The juxtaposition of man-made and natural elements continues throughout the 14-acre Turn Park, perhaps most notable in the balance of pristine marble slabs and encroaching patches of lush clover in the amphitheater.