Stephenson lectures start July 14 at LMC

Article Published: Jul. 8, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Stephenson lectures start July 14 at LMC

Donna Lisenby

If you are interested in Appalachia, reserve three Wednesdays in July to participate in the John B. Stephenson Lecture Series at Lees-McRae College.

John B. Stephenson , scholar, teacher, humanist and caretaker of Southern Appalachia, 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 the Southern mountains.

Beginning at 7 p.m. on July 14, 21 and 28, Lees-McRae 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 p.m. on July 14.

On July 21, Donna Lisenby, the Upper Watauga Riverkeeper, will discuss her career as an 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.

Next on July 28, Dr. Douglas Van Gundy will present a program of traditional Appalachian music and his original poetry.

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 evenings with us this summer."

The Stephenson Lecture Series is free and open to the public. Each program begins at 7 p.m. For information, contact Meghan Wright at (828) 898-8729.

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