Webinar: Stories and Songs From the Elaine Legacy Center With James and Vera White

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Rendering of the future museum in Elaine, Ark.

The monthly Arkansas Folklife Web Series, launched by Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts in April, will continue this month with songs and stories about the 1919 Elaine Massacre performed by James and Vera White of the Elaine Legacy Center. The event is set for 3-4 30 pm, Thursday, June 16, on Zoom. It is free and open to the public, and registration is required.

“It is an honor to be able to share the stories and songs of the Elaine tragedy in this series,” said Lauren Willette, who is coordinating the series. “I expect that those in attendance will experience a moving presentation and powerful performance.”

The Whites are closely involved with the Elaine Legacy Center. One of the goals of their organization is to research, preserve and share oral histories of the descendants and family members of the 1919 Elaine Massacre. The stories and songs they will perform were passed down from survivors.

She says that the greatest calling in her life is singing songs of praise. She began to sing with her father and her sister, and they formed a quartet group called Dad and the Spiritual Singers.

“I always felt more comfortable backgrounding until one day an intuition directed me to sing solo,” Vera said. “Ever since that day I’ve been going strong with the guidance of the Lord.”

James was also born and raised in Elaine and serves as the director of the Elaine Legacy Center, where he oversees food activism, oral history collection, education and more. The center is currently making final preparations to dedicate a new museum in Elaine on Sept. 30 as part of the 102nd commemoration of the Elaine Massacre.

All sessions of the 2022 Arkansas Folklife Web Series will be held from 3-4:30 pm on the third Thursday of each month. All sessions are free and open to the public.

  • July 21: Maria Christina Moroles and Lauri Umansky will present their upcoming memoir on Moroles’ life and her work as founder and maintainer of Santuario Arco Iris.

  • Aug. 18: Astrologer Maureen Richmond will provide an overview of the historical origins of astrological practice.

  • Sept. 15: Beekeeper Justin Lowe will present on the basics of beekeeping and his work at Rural Route Farms.

  • Oct. 20: Folklorist Rachel Reynolds will discuss holiday food traditions in the Ozarks and offer tips for preparing a classic holiday dish.

Questions about the 2022 Arkansas Folklife Web Series may be directed to Lauren Willette at willette@uark.edu. Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts is a statewide program of the University of Arkansas Libraries dedicated to building cross-cultural understanding by documenting, presenting and sustaining Arkansas ‘living traditional arts and cultural heritage.

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