WGBY Connecting Point
The town of Great Barrington is hosting the W.E.B. DuBois Legacy Festival this month to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader. Recently, some residents in town have proposed re-naming the Monument Valley Regional Middle School after Dubois. But the proposal has seen some backlash in the community. Multicultural Bridge CEO Gwendolyn VanSant sat down with Carolee McGrath to share why she supports the name change.
The Berkshire Eagle
As Great Barrington celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of W.E.B. Du Bois, it is apparent that a town that was slow to embrace the remarkable legacy of its native son has now done so. That process would perhaps be complete if Great Barrington and the Berkshire Hills School District undid a wrong from 14 years ago that in retrospect was the last vestige of the town's reluctance to accept its link to Mr. Du Bois and honor that connection.
The Berkshire Eagle
Trailblazers, by definition, forge ahead and alone into the unknown, breaking a path for others to eventually follow. Such is the case with Great Barrington's (now) favorite son, W. E. B. Du Bois, who fought for racial equality and dignity when such a battle earned him the enmity and disdain of the white American power structure. Meanwhile, his leftist political leanings and civil rights activism earned him harassment from Cold War-era law enforcement.
Heather Bellow | The Berkshire Eagle
GREAT BARRINGTON — It's yet another move to bring a native son's legacy home after a long exile born from a lingering Cold War hysteria.
A citizen's petition filed with Town Hall last month is asking Great Barrington voters to consider whether they would support renaming Monument Valley Regional Middle School to W.E.B. Du Bois Regional Middle School.
The renaming idea to honor the African-American scholar, writer and early civil rights leader is percolating outside the town's official W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee, but will likely find support within it, noted Chairman Randy Weinstein.
Petition to rename regional middle school after scholar, civil rights advocate W.E.B. Du Bois to be on town meeting warrant
Terry Cowgill | The Berkshire Edge
Great Barrington — The effort to rename a local middle school after a controversial scholar and civil rights figure is picking up steam, with a citizen’s petition taken out by a Great Barrington resident whose goal is to do just that.
The petition, filed by town resident Tim Likarish, would put before voters at the annual town meeting Monday, May 6, a resolution to rename Monument Valley Regional Middle School after the legendary scholar and civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois, who was born and raised in Great Barrington.
Gwendolyn VanSant, who heads Multicultural BRIDGE, where Likarish volunteers, told The Edge the idea has been brewing in the racial justice program at Multicultural BRIDGE.
VanSant emphasized that the initiative is not related to the official town committee that she co-chairs along with Randy Weinstein, the W. E. B. Du Bois Legacy Committee. Rather, it comes in her capacity as founding director of Multicultural BRIDGE, a nonprofit that provides many services around multiculturalism and social justice causes. The legacy committee has planned and executed an elaborate months-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of Du Bois’ birth.
“Right now, the middle school is just named after a road,” VanSant said in an interview. “We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years.”
VanSant said she and Likarish are not looking to revive the controversy of 15 years ago when an effort to name the new regional elementary school divided the community and took on a life of its own.
“We’re not trying to create a big rupture,” VanSant said. “There has been a lot of healing since then.”