The Great Barrington Historical Society’s Du Bois lecture and Searles Castle tour on Saturday, February 10th sold out early, thanks to the enthusiastic crowd of community members and students. Guest speaker Rev. Dr. Jamall A. Calloway’s lecture entitled “Believe in Life: The Enduring Influence of W.E.B. Du Bois,” was part of the Town’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of Du Bois’ birth. The event was held at John Dewey Academy, a residential, college preparatory high school that presently owns and occupies Searles Castle.
Rev. Dr. Calloway is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Professor at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America. Introductions from John Dewey Academy faculty member David Baum, who teaches a course in African-American History, GBHS Executive Director Robert Krol, and William “Smitty” Pignatelli. Great Barrington’s delegate in the MA House of Representatives preceded Calloway’s presentation.
The audience listened enthralled as Dr. Calloway told how Du Bois’s writings influenced his life decisions after he received a copy of The Souls of Black Folk; Essays and Sketches from his aunt when he was a teenager. He then discussed Du Bois’ educational and political accomplishments, and that many barriers Du Bois faced still persist today. Several standing ovations followed his talk.
Randy Weinstein, Executive Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center in Great Barrington, praised the lecture, stating “In plain English, the Searles Castle event was unforgettable. It’s not very often that a speaker can enrapture a politically diverse audience and, without mincing words, bring down the house with applause. He embraced, rather than ran, from hot-button issues, and that’s been a mission of our Du Bois festival.”
After a question-and-answer period, attendees were invited to a reception in the dining room and to join one of the docent-led tours of the main level and a portion of the second floor, which featured the Castle’s history and pointed out its distinctive architectural features.
The Great Barrington Historical Society is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, and promoting the Town’s history and culture. The Society’s Headquarters and Museum are located at the Truman Wheeler Farmstead, 817 South Main Street (Route 7) in Great Barrington. For more information on the Society, please call 413-591-8702 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations from this event will go toward the Du Bois Archive Fund, which supports acquisitions of W.E.B. Du Bois artifacts as well as those relating to African- American history.
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