From the Town of Great Barrington

In celebration of the 151st birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, the town will host a celebration of tributes and music on Feb. 23, 1-4 p.m., at the First Congregational Church on Main Street. The event is part of the town’s second annual Du Bois Festival, running Jan. 21-March 1.

The program, which includes tributes, music and song, will also honor Du Bois’ definitive biographer David Levering Lewis. Lewis will receive the town’s first W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Award, which honors recipients for “embodying and preserving W.E.B. Du Bois’ legacy as a scholar and activist for freedom.”

This is the first program produced by the town’s newly formed W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee, which preserves and promotes Du Bois’ legacy as a scholar and activist for civil rights, progressive education, economic justice and equality.

Performers include Jaeden Alston, a 7th grader performing a spoken word piece by his older brother, Kori Alston; The Hoping Machine, an activist singing group founded by Sarah Lee Guthrie, performing Civil Rights songs, and Otha Day, master drumming teacher and performer, who will lead a group drumming experience with the audience.

More music will be presented by Michael Whitney Brown, a singer/songwriter, pianist and gospel choir director; MaryNell Morgan-Brown, a professor, Du Bois scholar and a capella singer of traditional spirituals and music; Wanda Houston, actor, vocal stylist and coach -- and a Berkshire icon.

The event is free and open to the public, but a suggested donation of $10 will be appreciated.

Randy Weinstein, chair of the Du Bois Legacy Committee, said, "I am overjoyed that Gt. Barrington is now an official guardian of the Du Bois flame. Rarely is history created before your very eyes that reveals a community's best angels."

Speakers include Weinstein and Ed Abrahams, vice-chair GB Selectboard; Jeffrey Peck, great-grandson of W.E.B. Du Bois, Professor Frances Jones-Sneed from MCLA, Gwendolyn VanSant, vice-chair of the Legacy Committee, and Barbara Dean, Legacy Committee member.