Celebrating the Berkshires––starting Feb 1
Photo by Julie McCarthy, courtesy of the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College
Living on October Mountain, a boy got to school in the 1950s by sledding downhill. Moving here, a man on the train had to sit on his suitcase in the last car. A soldier returned to Pittsfield to find his west-side neighborhood gone to urban renewal. They talk about work and play, families and accomplishments, says Judith Monachina, director of the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College (BCC). A current runs through their stories—what it has meant, as W.E.B. DuBois wrote, to be both black and American. Dennis Powell, president of the Berkshire NAACP, has worked with Monachina as elders were invited to talk about their lives.
Opening February 1 at the Berkshire Museum, their stories will be shown in portraits, oral histories and a timeline. Across winter and early spring, the Berkshires will honor black Americans’ creativity and power. Great Barrington holds its second W.E.B. DuBois festival, and Gwendolyn Van Sant, director of Multicultural Bridge, will co-lead a course with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at BCC on his global view. Williams College Museum of Art will show Lenox photographer James Van Der Zee’s images of black life in New York City, opening February 15. As he photographed in Harlem, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Williams in 1961. Three years later, people here went to join him in the Freedom Summer, facing violence to help people register to vote. On February 4 at MCLA, Emmy-winning actor Ron Cephas Jones will perform “The Movement: 50 Years of Love and Struggle,” looking across the years since that summer, to see clearly today.