Pellissippi State hosts Appalachian expert George Brosi

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George Brosi
George Brosi

Pellissippi State Community will host Appalachian expert George Brosi for a presentation April 28.

The presentation, “Appalachia Then and Now,” begins at 2 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. It is free and the community is invited to attend. Brosi will have a display of Appalachian books for sale following his presentation.

Brosi, a 1960 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, will discuss major cultural and social changes in Southern Appalachia since the time he was a student in East Tennessee.

“The first picket line I walked was at a segregated laundromat in Oak Ridge in 1961,” Brosi said. “When I was growing up, there were still deep coal mines in Anderson County. Knowing the historical perspective of things like this gives us hope that really dramatic social changes are possible in America.”

Brosi is the owner of Appalachian Mountain Books, a seller of books specializing in books about Southern Appalachia. He was editor of Appalachian Heritage literary magazine for more than a decade, and has served as an English and Appalachian studies instructor in Kentucky’s higher education system, including at the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University. Brosi also co-edited “No Lonesome Road: Selected Prose and Poems of Don West” with Jeff Biggers, the author of Pellissippi State’s Common Book, “The United States of Appalachia.”

“I’m really glad the students at Pellissippi State have the opportunity to read Jeff’s book,” Brosi said. “It’s a wonderful introduction to regional life, and it really helps students have a feeling of pride about where they’re from.”

Brosi’s presentation is a Common Academic Experience event. Pellissippi State’s Common Academic Experience unites all Pellissippi State freshmen students in a shared reading experience of a Common Book — this academic year, “The United States of Appalachia” — which becomes the basis of a year-long discussion of issues related to the book.

To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

Download this press release: PSCC Brosi Lecture

World premiere of ‘Which Side Are You On’ at Pellissippi State

Florence Reece Actresses
Pellissippi State Community College will hold the world premiere of the original play “Which Side Are You On: The Florence Reece Story” beginning April 15. Three Pellissippi State students portray the titular character during different stages of her life: from left, Caroline Darwin, Julia Thress and Liel Kirk.

Gun thugs. Activism. Social justice.

These are some of the themes — still relevant today — that will be addressed during the world premiere of the original play, “Which Side Are You On: The Florence Reece Story,” April 15-17 and 22-24 at Pellissippi State Community College.

The play is written by Pellissippi State’s Writer-in-Residence Edward Francisco and is directed by Grechen Wingerter, assistant professor in Liberal Arts. It is a fictional retelling of the life of Florence Reece, an American social activist, poet and folksong writer.

The daughter and wife of coal miners, she penned the song “Which Side Are You On?” during the Harlan County War, a decade-long battle in the 1930s between coal miners and union organizers on one side and the coal companies, gun thugs and law enforcement officials on the other. The war included a series of strikes, skirmishes, bombings, executions and the occupation of Harlan County by both state and federal troops. Reece’s song became a social justice anthem after Pete Seeger recorded it in 1940.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students and are available at www.pstcc.edu/tickets. Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 15, 16, 22 and 23 and 2 p.m. April 17 and 24.

“This will be a very different play than what people are used to because of the scope of it,” said Wingerter. “The play has a huge, epic scope over decades and follows multiple characters. Plus the content of the play itself is all about social change and workers’ rights. We’re pushing the play to the max.”

Wingerter sees parallels between the social activism of the Harlan County War’s battle between coal miners and coal companies as reflective of similar confrontations still happening today.

“Florence Reece and her husband, Sam, wanted life to be fairer and more equitable for everyone, not just coal miners. Her song has been used in social justice movements since it was written in the 1930s,” Wingerter said.

The ensemble cast of 27 includes a number of Pellissippi State students as well as local children, high school students and other community and professional actors. The style of directing, based upon Bertolt Brecht’s concept of “epic theatre,” will include unusual features for plays, such as image projections and actors in the audience.

“Which Side Are You On: The Florence Reece Story” is one of the events that make up The Arts at Pellissippi State, a series of cultural activities including music, theatre, international celebrations, lectures and the fine arts. The play also is part of this year’s Common Academic Experience, a shared reading experience that includes class curriculum and extracurricular activities and events. This year’s Common Book is “The United States of Appalachia” by Jeff Biggers.

Additionally, “Which Side Are You On” is sponsored by an Arts Builds Communities grant administered by the Tennessee Arts Commission.

For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

 

Download this press release: Florence Reece at PSCC

Nikki Giovanni speaks to packed house at Pellissippi State

Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni speaks in the community room of Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus

 

Famed author, poet and Civil Rights activist Nikki Giovanni spoke to a packed house at Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus March 17. Giovanni spoke about her work, “On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History Through the Spirituals,” which studies the heritage of music as a means to escape the injustice and harshness of slavery, as well as on the history of African Americans in Appalachia. She also signed books and met community members and Pellissippi State students and employees during a reception. Giovanni is featured in Pellissippi State’s 2016 Common Book, “The United States of Appalachia.”

Nikki Giovanni
NIkki Giovanni
Giovanni with Wise and Tillman
Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr., right, with Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman and author and poet Nikki Giovanni March 17 at Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus.

 

Pellissippi State hosts award-winning author Nikki Giovanni

Nikki GiovanniOne of the world’s most well-known African American poets, Nikki Giovanni, will speak at Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus on Thursday, March 17.

Giovanni is the recipient of an unprecedented seven NAACP Image awards and a Grammy nomination, and is a New York Times bestselling author and finalist for the National Book Award. She will be on campus from 6-7:30 p.m. to speak about her work “On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History Through the Spirituals,” which studies the heritage of music as a means to escape the injustice and harshness of slavery.

Following her presentation, Giovanni will be available for a book signing and reception. The event is free and the community is invited. The Magnolia Avenue Campus is located at 1610 E. Magnolia Avenue.

Giovanni’s presentation is sponsored by Magnolia Avenue Campus’ Beyond the Common Book Club and is a Common Academic Experience event. Pellissippi State’s Common Book unites all Pellissippi State freshmen students in a shared reading experience, which becomes the basis of a year-long discussion of issues related to the book. This year’s Common Book is “The United States of Appalachia” by Jeff Biggers, and events in this series continue the conversation about the multifaceted history of Appalachia. Giovanni is featured in “The United States of Appalachia.”

Giovanni was born in Knoxville in 1943. Her first published volumes of poetry, “Black Feeling, Black Talk,” and “Black Judgment” grew out of her response to the assassinations of figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Sen. Robert Kennedy. Since then, she has published dozens of works. Today, Giovanni is a distinguished professor at Virginia Tech.

Additional support at the March 17 event will be provided by Pellissippi State’s Access & Diversity Office and the University of Tennessee’s Black Alumni Council.

For more information about attending this event, visit www.pstcc.edu or call the Magnolia Avenue Campus at 865-329-3100. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu. 

 

Download this press release: PSCC Nikki Giovanni

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