‘In the Footsteps of Du Bois’ Programs Planned for July 12

Rep. Byron Rushing

“In the Footsteps of Du Bois,” a daylong series of events illuminating the life of W.E.B. Du Bois will take place on Saturday, July 12 in Great Barrington, where the scholar, civil rights leader and NAACP founder was born and raised. The program will include a walking tour, interpretive trail and a public talk by state Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) at 4 p.m. at the First Congregational Church.

Rushing will reflect on Du Bois’ significance today. A reception follows his talk.

Prior to becoming state representative in 1982, Rushing was co-founder of Boston’s Museum of African American History and was its first executive director. Under his direction, the museum purchased and began the restoration of the African Meeting House, the oldest extant black church building in the United States.

Rushing also played a key role in the creation of the Boston African American National Historic Site, which is part of the National Park Service. “His work is significant in making visible African American heritage and steadfastly furthers efforts in the Berkshires to recognize Du Bois,” says anthropology professor Robert Paynter, anthropology professor.

A new interpretive trail takes visitors to the remains of the family’s ancestral home and along the way introduces visitors to Du Bois’ family, his accomplishments and the story of the homesite itself as revealed through UMass Amherst’s archaeological investigations. The trail was funded by the 1772 Foundation and UMass Amherst. The homesite is also designated as a point of interest on the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail.

“In the Footsteps of Du Bois” begins at 10 a.m. with a walking tour in downtown Great Barrington. The public is invited to join local historian Bernard A. Drew in viewing buildings that stood during Du Bois’ day and learn of his routines and friends. The tour will begin at the Du Bois birthplace (National Historic Landmark sign) at the end of Church Street. Parking is available near the River Walk.

At noon, the public is invited to attend a headstone dedication to commemorate the final resting place of W.E.B. Du Bois’s daughter, Yolande Du Bois Williams, at the Mahaiwe Cemetery on Main Street. The event will include remarks by the great-grandson of Du Bois, Arthur McFarlane II.