Around Amherst: Black History Month event set for Saturday

Staff Writer
Thursday, February 08, 2018

AMHERST — A celebration of Black History Month will begin Saturday in front of Town Hall, where the Pan-African flag, with its red, black and green colors, is already flying.

From 11 to 11:30 a.m., the Amherst Area NAACP and the town’s Human Rights Commission will lead the community in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” People who attend are welcome to sing and bring noisemakers to make a joyful noise.

Community leaders will give brief remarks.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was written in 1900 by brothers James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson, and first performed as a poem by African-American children at a segregated school in Florida.

The event comes after the Select Board this week issued a proclamation urging “all residents to mark this occasion and to participate fittingly in its observance” and recognizes the history and accomplishments of individuals with ties to Massachusetts, including scholar W.E.B DuBois and Crispus Attucks, the first casualty of the American Revolution.

On Feb. 27 at noon, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will celebrate Black History Month with a presentation on shared prosperity and what businesses can do to increase equity. The event at the Powerhouse at Amherst College will have a conversation with Robert C. Jones, president of the Association of Black Business and Professionals, and Roderick Anderson, executive director of the Springfield Institute and executive director of Pioneer Valley Coral and Natural Science Institute in Hadley.

Conch Shell Award

A longtime town planner familiar with Amherst’s past will be recognized with the Conch Shell Award from the Amherst Historical Society.

Jonathan Tucker, who retired as a planner last summer and who was raised and educated in Amherst, is getting the honor for having a “deep knowledge of Amherst history.”

The Founder’s Day celebration, which commemorates the town’s 1759 founding, takes place Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Woodbury Room at the Jones Library.

The event also includes the Mabel Loomis Todd Lecture, which will be given by Lynne Zacek Bassett on “Reigning Fashion: Victoria and the Queen, 1837 - 1901.”

Bassett specializes in historic costume and textiles and was consulted in reviewing the Amherst Historical Society’s textile collections. Afterward, a reception takes place at the neighboring Strong House.

The Conch Shell Award was established in 2007 to honor those who have made a significant contribution to the culture and history of Amherst.

Charter debates online

Residents seeking to preserve Town Meeting have created two new online forums in an effort to continue the debate on the proposed charter that would change the form of government, with one forum featuring posts that opponents argue have been prevented from being publicly disseminated on the pro-charter sites.

“Deleted in Amherst” is the Facebook page that collects and posts comments that its organizers claim have been censored and blocked by moderators for Amherst for All’s Facebook page and the “A Better Amherst” blog written by Charter Commissioners Mandi Jo Hanneke and Nick Grabbe.

Town Meeting member Janet McGowan said she has been prevented from posting to the Amherst for All Facebook page, along with a handful of others, and that her posts to the blog are being unfairly scrutinized, even though they are civil.

“No member of the public gets to see that they are blocking people’s comments,” McGowan said.

Hanneke said the blog is written from a pro-charter side, but anyone is welcome to post so long as their posts don’t contain exaggerated positions and ad hominem attacks. These rules are spelled out on the blog.

“If a comment does not follow the guidelines, we are not approving it,” Hanneke said.

Charter opponent Kitty Axelson-Berry said screen shots of blocked posts show that some of what is being prevented are objective posts.

“Blocking polite, informative comments that expand a Facebook string is legal but not democratic and not open-minded,” Axelson-Berry said.

Michael Greenebaum, retired Marks Meadow School principal, has begun the “MichaelGreenebaumBlog,” to explore terms such as “checks and balances” and “status quo” and to look into the series of votes on the proposed reconfiguration and building plan for the elementary schools. It can be viewed at michaelgreenebaum.blogspot.com/

Senior Center benefits

Two upcoming event will raise money for programs at the Amherst Senior Center.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., the Bangs Community Center will be the site of the “Karen Carpenter Story,” performed by Donna Lee. The event begins at 12:30 p.m. with soup and sandwiches.

The Friends of the Amherst Senior Center is organizing the event. Tickets are $15 and can be obtained by contacting Tim Atteridge at 530-4810.

On Monday, auditions for the second Valley’s Got Talent, with a fee is $30. 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Bangs.

Those selected to move on will perform March 25 at Buckley Recital Hall at Amherst College, for an audience and for a panel of celebrity judges, with the first prize award $1,000.


MONDAY: Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Disability Access Advisory Committee, 11:30 a.m., 210 Old Farm Road; Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee, 5:30 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; TMCC Subcommittee on Policies & Procedures, 5:30 p.m., Glass Room, Bangs Community Center; Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee, 6:30 p.m., high school library; Design Review Board, 7 p.m., Planning Department library, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: Amherst Public Art Commission, noon, First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall.