Founded in 2011, the Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival is a biennial, summer-long celebration of African-American Culture & Heritage in the Berkshires. The festival celebrates the rich traditions of the African-American community, arts and culture, history and heritage, while acknowledging the larger global context in which this community exists. Rather than a site-specific series of events presented by a single organization, Lift Ev’ry Voice is an umbrella under which a wide range of events, exhibitions, forums and celebrations are gathered to create a rich tapestry across Berkshire County. We welcome organizations and institutions, from anywhere in the county, to contribute events and exhibitions that resonate with the spirit of the festival. Past partners who we are looking forward to working with again for 2017 include Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Mass MoCA, the Mount (Edith Wharton) and the Berkshire Chapter of the NAACP.

The history of the African-American community in the Berkshires stretches from the War of Independence, which dozens of blacks from this region fought in, to the present day’s diverse community, including the second African-American female astronaut, Stephanie Wilson. Famous Berkshire natives include such historic figures as the legendary writer and activist W.E.B. DuBois; Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, the first American slave to successfully sue for her freedom; and the Reverend Samuel Harrison, who served as the chaplain to the legendary African-American 54th Regiment of western Massachusetts in the Civil War and successfully fought for and won equal pay for black soldiers.

2017 Steering Committee

  • Sandra Burton
  • Roberta McCulloch-Dews
  • Dennis Powell
  • Marla Roberson
  • Frances Jones-Sneed
  • Megan Whilden
  • Whitney Battle-Baptiste
  • Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant
  • Shirley Edgerton
  • JR Glover
  • Thasia Giles
  • William Yehle