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The Frank and Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center to host events for spring

The Frank and Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center announces its schedule of public events for the 2020 Spring Semester. The Folklife Center, located in an historic barn on the campus of Fairmont State University, is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of West Virginia’s cultural heritage. 

The spring schedule includes two first-person historic portrayals. On Tuesday, March 17, at 7 p.m., James Froemel will play cartoonist Charles Schultz.  Schulz’s first Peanuts strip was published in 1950 in seven newspapers. At the time of his death in 2000, it was appearing in 2,600 papers around the world. James Froemel is a three-time winner of the West Virginia’s Biggest Liar contest and a WV comedy festival headliner.  He portrays Schultz as part of the History Alive! Program sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council.

Storyteller Ilene Evans will play Coralie Franklin Cook on Monday April 6 at 7 p.m. Born into slavery, Mrs. Cook was educated at Storer College in Harpers Ferry and went on to become an educator, suffragist, and civil rights activist. Cook taught elocution at Howard University and was on the Board of Education in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Evans is an adjunct professor of communication at Fairmont State University and the artistic director of Voices from the Earth, a non-profit theatre company that tells the stories of underrepresented people. Both of these historic first-person performances are free and open to the public. 

The Folklife Center will also present a Sunday Author Series. These Sunday afternoon events will begin at 2 p.m. and are open to the public. 

On March 22, Cicero Fain will read from his book Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story. Using interviews and archival materials, Fain details the rise of the Black working class as it pursued, then fulfilled, its aspirations in early 20th Century Huntington. Fain, who grew up in Huntington, is a professor of history at the College of Southern Maryland.

One March 29, New York Times Bestselling Author Sharyn McCrumb will read from her book, The Unquiet Grave. Known for her “ballad books” including The Ballad of Frankie Silver and The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, McCrumb’s work celebrates the history and folklore of Appalachia. The Unquiet Grave contains plot points from the popular West Virginia folktale, The Greenbrier Ghost. Ms. McCrumb has received awards from the West Virginia Library Commission and the Appalachian Writers Association. This event is open to the public, but the number of seats will be limited. To make a reservation for Ms. McCrumb’s reading, please call 304-367-4403.

Fairmont State University alumnae, Bonnie Proudfoot will read from Goshen Road: A Novel on April 19.  This work of fiction is about a working-class family in West Virginia. It illustrates the experiences of sisters Dessie and Billie Price and how they cope with family, personal adversities, and cultural changes in Appalachia for over 20 years. The stories begin in 1967.

Burnis R. Morris will read from his book, Carter G. Woodson: History, The Black Press, and Public Relations. Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History, was the second African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard. He was a dean at Howard University and West Virginia Collegiate Institute (now West Virginia State University). Woodson lobbied schools and organizations to participate in a special program to encourage the study of African American history, which began in February 1926. Burnis Morris is the Woodson Scholar in the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University. 

For more information about these events, or to make a reservation for the March 29 reading, please call 304-367-4403 or email WVfolklife@fairmontstate.edu. Parking is available in the lot across the street from the Folklife Center.

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