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In mostly white Great Barrington, MA, an effort to celebrate Black life

Walk around Railroad Street in Great Barrington, a picturesque town in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, and you’ll find several murals honoring the life of W.E.B. DuBois, the first Black person in America to earn a doctorate and a co-founder of the NAACP. Great Barrington is DuBois’s birthplace.

Another mural nearby celebrates and supports the Black Lives Matter movement.

It may be surprising to find these markers of Black culture in a town where almost every face is white, but they are reminders of a part of life here that few outside the Berkshires are aware of.

The murals were put up by young people in the community who were facilitated by the Railroad Street Youth Project, an organization that assists the youth of Great Barrington in pursuing projects they think will make the town a more welcoming and supportive place for them and their peers. It also helps facilitate conversations and raise awareness of racial inequity in Berkshire County. 

NewsHour Weekend Producer Zachary Green spoke with Ananda Timpane, Railroad Street’s executive director and Regina East, the organization’s director of empowerment and advocacy, about the work they do and why it’s important to have symbols of Black life in the Berkshires.

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