2019 Seasons Newsletter
The highlight of Week Zero was our “Welcome To The AAHH House” party. We owe a tremendous debt to Monte Thompson and crew for making this a resounding and well-attended success. We had great attendance (60) and Erroll had to give two introductory speeches as the crowd grew.
Our work started in earnest with our traditional porch chat on Sunday, 6/23. Last year, the focus was on listening. This year, an additional focus is on how the discussions of last season partially informed our strategy and program for this season. The picture was taken as people arrived. Maybe 20 attended (normal last year was between 15 and 20).
On Tuesday the Speaker Reception/Open House was held in the House, which has become a wonderful place of fellowship. Our speaker, Dr. Joe Trotter, and his wife interacted with numerous visitors (15) to the house. We were supported with refreshments and manpower by the Baptist House for which we were quite thankful.
Dr. Trotter's speech was in the Hall of Philosophy on Wednesday at 3:30 pm. It was a scholarly, low key and well researched talk reflecting his status as a historian and a scholar. Elaine Davis introduced Dr. Trotter wonderfully. Michael Hill, President of Chautauqua Institution, was present at the start of the speech (a link to his tweet is shown below).
On Thursday, at the House, we hosted a Chautauqua Dialogue, which we have committed to do weekly. While the purpose of these is to give visitors opportunities to discuss any experience they’ve had while at Chautauqua, they likely come to the AAHH House to discuss reactions to AAHH’s lectures and African American/Minority issues. Participants in the Dialogue were uniformly effusive in praise of Dr. Trotter’s speech, particularly its nuanced and storytelling nature, and encouraged us to invite Dr. Trotter again, especially for his story-telling about early African American entrepreneurs, engineers and barbers
Weeks Two and Three are in the books and both were rousing successes!
Week Two started with a very well attended porch chat.The crowds continue to grow. Last year 10-15 was the average crowd and this year we are seeing 20-30 people on the porch each week. We had a number of board members present for Week Two (including CHQ Board) and they contributed substantially to the discussion. It is always enlightening to hear Helene Gale talk about five generations of Chautauquans in her family and many of the latest generation were on the porch making suggestions and asking challenging questions about the progress we are making. That seems to validate that we need to do much more outreach to the 25-35-year-old group as well as to the 50-60-year old’s getting ready to retire.
The Open House on Tuesday was a real treat as we were joined by the chaplain of the week, Dr. Zina Jacque, a dynamic, yet highly personable, minister from the Chicago area She engaged the numerous visitors and offered a few suggestions which will help inform our planning going forward. Helene Gayle hosted the discussion on Tuesday. We had an overflow crowd in the social rooms of the House.
The Thursday speech was a collaboration with the Education Department and was given by Dr. David Blight, the Pulitzer prize winning author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.
From the Chautauquan Daily: Pulitzer Winner David Blight to Expand on Frederick Douglass’ Life & Legacy He gave a spellbinding presentation to an overflow crowd (rain and lots of thunder) on Douglass’ famous July the Fourth speech. He likened it to a three movement symphony with the first movement designed to soothe and engage the audience, the second to shock and cause them discomfort and the third to provide a sense of hope that there was a solution to the conditions which caused the second movement.
Dr. David Blight’s speech was recorded on Chautauqua’s Facebook page, and well worth the time to watch.
Week Three started with a successful porch chat similar to Week Two with a frank and candid dialogue around issues of race again similar to the previous week.
Wednesday’s Open House was again a success as we had our speaker of the week, Dr. Daina Berry from the University of Texas, there to answer questions about her upcoming talk and her research about women in slavery. The crowd was again large and engaged.
Dr. Berry gave a stimulating and scholarly presentation on Wednesday about how slaves developed a sense of their self-worth when the only value they had was that assigned by the market. She started her presentation with an audio excerpt from Oscar Brown Jr’s famous slave auction track “Bid ‘em in, bid ‘em in”. The crowd was engaged instantly. The granularity of her presentation was evident in the post talk questioning when many of the questioners started their questions by stating that they were unaware of many of the horrors she had chronicled during her presentation.
From the Chautauquan Daily: Daina Berry to Discuss African American History & Resilience
The hallmark of a good speech is that you learn new things! Also, many people bought books!
Some explanation and additional information if you have time and interest: Several CHQ organizations combined to host “Homeboys” from Father Greg Boyle’s Homeboy Industries. This year four Homeboy leaders and their wives enjoyed a week at Chautauqua. Their presence at events is a prize. AAHH House was blessed by their presence the second year in a row!
Last year AAHH President, Erroll Davis, was on a panel with the Homeboys and a leader from Chautauqua’s Symphony Fellows program.
AAHH House is home to the Symphony Fellows who live in upstairs bedrooms. We share the kitchen and social rooms when there are AAHH functions (especially Speaker receptions and Chautauqua Dialogue discussions). The point of bringing up the Symphony Fellows is that two fellows from last year are in the CSO as substitutes this year!
And, there are recordings of both the diversity panel and the Symphony Fellows in performance from last year in the link below.
Highlights of Weeks 4 & 5 were Stacey Abrams and, AAHH’s own, Otis Moss III!
Wow! The Stacey Abrams crowd was happy! Almost 2000 braved the weather to see Stacey in three different venues and many more viewed her live on the Institution's Facebook stream.
July 17 RECORDED LIVE: Hon. Stacey Abrams, J.D. – The Road to a Fair Fight: A Conversation About Voting Rights. Stacey Abrams live:
From the Chautauquan Daily: Stacey Abrams to Discuss Importance of Voting Rights in AAHH Lecture
AAHH-hosted Chautauqua Dialogues have been very popular. Week 5 we were asked to host dual sessions and still the groups were overpopulated - 51 people in attendance total.
Otis Moss III is a Founding AAHH Board member, and past Chairman. He was CHQ Chaplain of Week 5 and this was his first sermon. He got a standing ovation! Otis Moss recorded live.
From the Chautauquan Daily: Work Your Corner by Any Means Necessary to Change the World, Rev. Otis Moss III Says
Otis Moss III (and his wife, Monica) hosted the AAHH discussion in Week 5. Rev. Moss’ brief speech highlighted some of the history of famous African Americans at Chautauqua (recorded live). He also did the morning Prayers for Peace (5 minutes everyday), so he represented AAHH broadly and well!
From the Chautauquan Daily: Liberation Ministry Frees People to be in their Right Minds, Rev. Otis Moss III Says
AAHH outside speaker for Week 5 was Dr. Alisha Jones, Ethnomusicologist. She spoke on “Deciphering Musical Grievances Against Law Enforcement in African-American Hip-hop.”
From the Chautauquan Daily: Ethnomusicologist Alisha Jones to Talk Grievances in Hip-Hop for AAHH