If you are interested in Appalachia, reserve three Wednesdays in July to participate in the John B. Stephenson Lecture Series at Lees-McRae College. Scholar, teacher, humanist and caretaker of Southern Appalachia, John B. Stephenson began his career at Lees-McRae College and rose to be the president of Berea College. He left an enduring legacy of devoted stewardship of the mountains. This series of programs honors his memory and carries forward his devotion to our Southern mountains.
Beginning at 7:00 p.m. on July 14, 21 and 28, Lees-McRae College will present a diverse set of programs: an historian, an environmental activist and a musician/poet will share their expertise with the public in presentations that promise to be both entertaining and enlightening.
Dr. Allen Speer, distinguished Professor of History at Lees-McRae, will present a reader’s theater based on his Voices from Cemetery Hill trilogy. Together with his wife, Janet Speer of the college’s performing arts program, he will highlight women who overcame obstacles in life and persevered in difficult times. His presentation, Courageous Women will take place beginning at 7:00 p.m. on July 14 in the Stafford Room of the Carson Library.
On July 21 Donna Lisenby, the Upper Watauga Riverkeeper, will discuss her career as a advocate committed to preserving and protecting North Carolina rivers. The subject of a UNC-Chapel Hill documentary in the college’s “Environmental Heroes” series, Lisenby helped pioneer the Riverkeeper program in the state as the Catawba Riverkeeper. In 2007 she brought her award-winning talents and dedication to the mountains to champion the Watauga River, Elk River, Roan Creek and Watauga Lake watersheds. Lisenby’s lecture will be held in Evans Auditorium in the Cannon Student Center.
Next on July 28, Dr. Douglas Van Gundy will present a program of traditional Appalachian music and his original poetry in the Stafford Room of the Carson Library. A professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College, he is a well-known traditional musician, playing fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo in the old-time duo Born Old. His first book of poems, A Life Above Water, was published in 2007 by Red Hen Press, and his poems and essays have appeared in many journals including The Oxford American, Ecotone, Waccamaw, The Louisville Review and The Fretboard Journal. In 2009, his poems “Engineers” and “The Return of the Almighty” were nominated for Pushcart Prizes.“
Lees-McRae College and the community are fortunate to have these vital guardians of our culture spend evenings with us,” said Dr. Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia at Lees-McRae College. “We invite everyone to spend one or all three evening with us this summer.”
The Stephenson Lecture Series is free and open to the public. Each program begins at 7:00 p.m. For information contact Meghan Wright at (828) 898-8729.