Town agrees to Du Bois Legacy Day

Written Jan 14, 2021 by in Berkshire Eagle

In what was a historic vote for the town’s Select Board, all five members Monday unanimously proclaimed Feb. 23 as W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Day.

The proclamation to honor the civil rights giant every year on his birthday was brought to the board by the co-chairpersons of the town’s W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee, Gwendolyn VanSant and Randy Weinstein.

Weinstein believes Great Barrington might be the only municipality in the U.S. to declare a “Du Bois Day.” The town will continue to hold lectures, music and other events, as it has done since it began week-long celebrations of Du Bois in 2017.

The proclamation was particularly emotional for board member Leigh Davis, whose father, Lloyd Davis, was the architect of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, established in 1983.

“For me personally it is an honor to be serving on the Select Board at this time that this day is proclaimed,” she told The Eagle. “It resonates strongly with me. It felt like it was coming full circle.”

Davis said its poignancy is amplified during a troubling political and social landscape, and is grateful to VanSant and Weinstein for all the hard work that has made the town realize “the significance of this and the legacy of Du Bois in Great Barrington.”

Du Bois was born and raised in town, and went on to co-found the NAACP, write extensively about racial division, history and economics, and the question of human freedom.