The Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University will celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of its founder, Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander, with its annual Jubilee Picnic on Tuesday, July 7, and a Centennial Gala on Friday, July 10.
Dr. Robert Luckett, the Center Director, said, “This is a special opportunity for us to lift Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander into the national consciousness, where we know she belongs.”
In 1949, Margaret Walker Alexander joined the English faculty at then Jackson State College, where she taught for 30 years before retiring in 1979. While at Jackson State in 1968, she founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life and Culture of Black People, one of the first Black Studies programs in the nation. Today named in her honor, the Margaret Walker Center is a museum and special collections archive dedicated to the African-American experience.
“We are proud to lift up Dr. Alexander’s artistic and academic legacy each and every day,” Luckett said. “We hope that the community will join us in our efforts, particularly, with these special upcoming centennial events.”
On Tuesday, July 7, the Margaret Walker Center will host its annual Jubilee Picnic in honor of what would have been Margaret Walker Alexander’s actual 100th birthday. With support from the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Jubilee Picnic will begin at 11:30 a.m. in Ayer Hall and will include a lecture by scholar Maryemma Graham and a community discussion led by Carolyn Brown. Dr. Graham and Dr. Brown are both Margaret Walker Alexander biographers.
Then, on Friday, July 10, the Margaret Walker Centennial Gala will begin with a reception at 5 p.m. in the JSU Student Center Ballroom. Special tributes to Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander will begin at 6 p.m., and, immediately following the tributes, the highlight of the gala will be the performance of a special concert, For My People: A New Musical Work.
A living-history presentation, the concert event features award-winning New York City composer and pianist Randy Klein; Broadway vocalist Rosena Hill Jackson; and the internationally renowned JSU Chorale. Inspired by the words of Margaret Walker, Klein received the musical rights to her poetry from the University of Georgia Press and, over a 10-year period, composed this song cycle.
All events are free and open to the public. RSVPs for the Gala are requested.
Below is the official Margaret Walker Centennial Poster that can be purchased at the Jubilee Gift Shop for $20.00 dollars.