Underground Railroad Poetry Program Makes First Stop in Jacksonville Tonight

By Benjamin Cox on January 19, 2023 at 11:40am

Old words in new ways is the theme of a poetry program coming to Jacksonville in the near future.

Shatriya Smith, Executive Director of the Garvey Tubman Cultural Arts & Research Center, is bringing Underground Railroad Poetry to Jacksonville. Smith says the program is a themed monthly series highlighting this region’s finest visionaries, wordsmiths, and abolitionists.

It’s basically poetry prompts for those visionaries and forward thinkers that want to participate and a new vision of bringing old words back to life. So what we do is we have a three-part program, and we call them stations. Station A is our workshop, Station B is our open mic night, and Station C is our field trips somewhere along the Underground Railroad.”

Smith says the first program will be at the Illinois College Sibert Theater tonight. “We will be discussing the three prompt programs for the Underground Railroad Poetry. In addition to that, we will be in Jacksonville on the 28th, but I can’t disclose exactly where it’s going to be, as it is the Underground Railroad. It’s kind of exclusive, but I can give you a hint though. It is in a space that Frederick Douglas orated in Jacksonville, and it has a connection to an abolitionist congregation.”

Smith says the lessons encompass multiple connections to the Underground Railroad in an attempt to educate and also to show that the lessons of the past still have relevance today.

We are asking for a five-dollar donation at the door to assist our organization in providing services to kids of low-income families of free music classes from the age of five to seventeen.

We also provide educational resources and art engagement to teach kids how to become entrepreneurs and making trash into cash, by non-recycled products and turning them into art that they can then sell.”

The event will be held in the Sibert Theatre at the McGraw fine Arts Center tonight beginning at 7 pm. Included in the events tonight will be Kathryn Harris portraying Harriet Tubman, a performance from a dance troop, and speakers Vincent Llewellyn Pierrelouis Chappelle from the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum, along with a presentation by Smith.

The open mic night, titled, “The Conduit” will be at Buzz Bomb Brewery in Springfield on Sunday from 7-10 PM. For more information, visit the Garvey Tubman Cultural Arts & Research Center on Facebook or call (217) 816-0820.