WEB Du Bois | WAMC

WEB Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois

The Berkshire Hills Regional School District Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to rename Monument Valley Regional Middle School in Great Barrington the W.E.B. Du Bois Regional Middle School. 

A black and white photograph of a bald black man in a suit and bowtie with a mustache
Cornelius Marion Battey / Wikipedia Commons

The Berkshire Hills Regional School District committee will soon hold a public hearing on a petition that calls for the Monument Valley Regional Middle School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts to be renamed after local civil rights icon W.E.B. Du Bois. WAMC spoke with Gwendolyn VanSant of Great Barrington’s W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee to find out more about the decision, and why Du Bois’s support of Communism in his later years has led some in the community to resist past efforts at recognizing the NAACP co-founder. The public hearing is set for September 3rd.

W.E.B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the most important African-American activists during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the NAACP, supported Pan-Africanism, and was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts 150 years ago this month and Great Barrington's Du Bois anniversary celebration began on January 15 and will continue throughout 2018.

Here to tell us more are Dennis Powell, President of the Berkshire County Branch NAACP;and member of the Steering Committee Du Bois Lecture Series; Professor Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst; Ted Thomas, poet and teacher who directs the student Du Bois spoken word programs; and Barbara Dean, musician, performer, and radio DJ who has worked on Du Bois issues and promotion in Great Barrington for about three decades.

The W.E. B. Du Bois Educational Series-Great Barrington will stage its first event of the 2017-2018 school year October 24th when co-authors of Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family, Shannon Lanier and Jane Feldman, give an interactive, multimedia presentation that explores the meaning of race, its influence on personal identity and our interrelatedness as Americans.

The event will take place at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, starting at 7:00 PM and begin with a spoken word arrangement by poet Ted Thomas performed by Monument Mountain, Pittsfield and Taconic High School students.  The event is free and open to the public.

Lanier, a sixth great grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, and Feldman will expand from their award-winning book that recounts in the style of a family photo album Lanier’s travels across the country to meet his relatives, both those descended from Jefferson’s wife Martha and those descended from Hemings. 

Great Barrington to Commemorate Civil Rights Leader

Aug 22, 2013
Jim Levulis / WAMC

At a time when millions of Americans are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, people from the Berkshires are recognizing another civil rights milestone.

Great Barrington was the hometown of the late author and civil rights leader and founder of the NAACP. He died nearly 50 years ago.

A parcel of land and home located along route 23 in Great Barrington that was given to WEB Dubois as a gift was bulldozed in the mid-50’s. In the 1960’s, the acreage where the homestead sat changed hands. Currently, UMass Amherst owns the homesite.

The Friends of the Du Bois Home site are planning to include the 5-acre plot Great Barrington and three other locations a national historic site.