Phil Holand } Berkshire Edge
Great Barrington — “Being Black in the Berkshires” was the title of a panel presentation sponsored by Multicultural BRIDGE on the evening of Monday, February 11, at St. James Place. A capacity crowd of 40 mostly white South County residents heard four panelists discuss black life in the Berkshires and relate some of their own experiences as people of color in a region where black faces are few (African Americans make up about 3 percent of the total population of the Berkshires).
The gathering was a follow-up to last September’s forum on the same theme in Pittsfield, but this time in the more affluent – and whiter – South County. “There is an imaginary line between North and South County,” said Dennis Powell, president of the Berkshire County NAACP and a Pittsfield resident who was born and raised in the city. “It passes right through Guido’s,” he added (to nervous laughter), referring to the food emporium’s northern location on the Pittsfield / Lenox line.
BRIDGE stands for “Berkshire Resources for Integration of Diverse Groups through Education,” and the four panelists embodied those ideas in their own professional and personal lives. Besides Powell, panelists included educator and community activist Shirley Edgerton, Dr. Eden-Renee Hayes, Dean of Equity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Psychology at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and Alfred Enchill, District Aide in State Sen. Adam Hinds‘ Berkshire County office – another son of the Berkshires – who moderated the event as a private citizen. BRIDGE educator Stephanie Wright, St. James Liaison Jane Burke, BRIDGE Board Co-Secretary Ari Cameron, and Powell provided welcoming remarks.