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African-American Festival Coming to the Berkshires

Nichole Dupont

The Rev. Samuel Harrison of Pittsfield was the chaplain for the famed 54th Mass. Regiment during the Civil War.

I don't know if you've noticed, but Berkshire County is living up to its designation as a cultural Mecca, although I sometimes cringe when I hear the term. Perhaps due to overuse. And while most of our minds are hibernating in a frozen coma, there are still those tireless cultural gurus and volunteers who continue to amaze us with their ingenuity and generosity.

The latest news, which will be made official at a press conference on Monday morning, addresses heritage. In June, cultural organizations all over the county will join forces in to celebrate and highlight African-American culture in the area. The monthlong event is being co-chaired by none other than Shirley Edgerton, the tireless director of Youth Alive! (and a Berkshire County Hero).

Both Berkshire County mayors are expected to attend the announcement on Monday at 1 p.m. at Pittsfield's Second Congregational Church. Don Quinn Kelley is co-chairing the event with Edgerton. The region is part of the recently designated Upper Housatonic African-American Heritage Trail. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts professor Frances Jones-Sneed is following up her first book on the upper Housatonic with the African-American Heritage Project in the Northern Berkshires.

The African-American Festival (not sure if this is the official title) is being modeled after the Berkshire Festival of Women in the Arts, which was held in March 2009. The festival, which was spear-headed by Eugenie Sills (founder and publisher of The Women's Times), included film screenings, exhibitions, performances and talks all geared toward examining the role of women in the arts as well as highlighting the work of Berkshire women artists, teachers and performers.

Stay tuned for details on the African-American festival coming to a neighborhood, theater, gallery or Main Street near you….
 

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