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 home >> civil rights history project >> civil rights program series >> symposium schedule & bios

Since '68: Cultural Organizations, Programming & Documentation, and Community Enrichment in New York, Kentucky, and Washington, DC

September 24, 2018
1- 4:30 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Jefferson Building
Library of Congress

About the Symposium

The symposium will explore the themes of cultural work, geography, and community as manifested in the history of three organizations that emerged from the social, political and cultural transformations that reshaped national and global society in 1968: the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, Appalshop, and the Drum and Spear Bookstore.

The symposium is free to all attendees, but please note that seating is limited.

1:00 pm - Fifty Years of Cultural Programming and Documentation: The Center for Traditional Music and Dance and Appalshop

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018, CTMD's programs and documentation celebrate the wealth of cultural heritage found in New York's immigrant communities. Appalshop is looking toward its 50th year (in 2019) of presenting the cultures and experiences of Appalachian communities as counter-narratives that combat the surrounding the region. Founders and current staff members will reflect on the unique history of each organization and discuss questions in common about the role of cultural documentation, heritage vitality, and plurality of experiences across rural and urban spaces.

Presenter Biographies (alphabetical)

Alex Gibson Alex Gibson

Alexander Gibson serves as the Executive Director of Appalshop, a multi-media arts organization located in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Before joining Appalshop, Gibson practiced law within the Torts, Insurance, and Business Litigation practice groups at Stites & Harbison, PLLC in Louisville, Kentucky, and in the Business Litigation group at Ballard, Spahr, Andrews, and Ingersol in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Before entering private practice, Gibson served as a federal law clerk for the Honorable Thomas W. Phillips, U.S. District Judge for the eastern district of Tennessee, where he assisted in the resolution of multi-million dollar law suits, federal criminal trials, and critical questions of constitutional law; particularly, those issues that implicate the First Amendment. Prior to his clerkship and while attending law school, Alex provided Pro Bono legal services to asylum seekers from central and west Africa, conducted tax workshops in west Philadelphia and was part of a delegation that went to serve Mombasa, Kenya, in order to teach constitutional law to women's rights groups in the wake of Kenyan constitutional reform. Alex Gibson graduated from Berea College in 2008 with a B.A. in Philosophy and earned his J.D., Doctor of Laws, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2012. He also holds certificates in International Comparative Law from Queen Mary at the University of London, England, and in Thai and Southeast Asian Studies from Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

Martin Koenig Martin Koenig

Martin Koenig founded New York's Balkan Arts Center in 1968 and together with Ethel Raim, guided its transformation into first, the Ethnic Folk Arts Center and then, the Center for Traditional Music. Together they were were co-artistic and executive directors of CTMD, until Koenig's retirement in 1994. Koenig has recorded, filmed, and photographed music and dance in Balkan villages and in urban immigrant communities in the United States since 1966. He has taught Balkan dance for the past 30 years throughout the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. In the last few years he has been working to exhibit and publish his unique and extensive collection of images stored in files and boxes wedged into every available space in his home and office. Reconnecting with the areas in southeast Europe where he previously worked, he revisited Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Serbia in 2005, and in 2006 was invited to stage a one-person photography exhibit at the Bulgarian National Gallery in Sofia. That exhibit, as well as other Balkan photographs have subsequently traveled to New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Montreal, and Toronto. A 96-page hardcover book with accompanying music CD and photo cards were published from this exhibit: Voices & Images From Bulgaria, 1966-1979. In spring of 2015 he produced a music CD that he recorded in the 1960s and 1970s: Playing ‘Til Your Soul Comes Out! Music of Macedonia. The recording is issued by Smithsonian Folkways and serves as a sonic time capsule of musical life in 1960s Macedonia, untapped in previous recordings. 

Ethel Raim Ethel Raim

Ethel Raim is co-founder and Artistic Director emerita of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. She has been a national leader in revitalizing diverse ethnic traditions and awakening Americans to a broader appreciation of our traditional music and dance heritage for over a half century. From her early work in the 1970's researching and presenting immigrant traditions with co-director Martin Koenig at the Slavic and Balkan Cultures Program at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and then at New York City's Balkan Arts Center (now known as the Center for Traditional Music and Dance), she pioneered approaches for presenting traditional artists in familiar settings like cafes, beer gardens, and dance halls. Under her guidance, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) carried out field research and programming about a remarkable variety of ethnic traditions, including those of Americans of Caribbean, South American, African, Balkan, Irish, Slavic, Jewish, Latin American, Mediterranean, and Asian heritage. Extending CTMD's work beyond research, recordings, films, archiving, and concert programming, Raim created the Community Cultural Initiatives (CCIs). These programs collaborate with a number of ethnic communities to develop infrastructure necessary to sustain the traditions of community partners on their own terms. The outcomes of CCIs include the creation of a number of self-sustaining cultural organizations, including, among others, Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, Mariachi Academy of New York, and establishment of the annual Festival Shqiptar within New York's Albanian community. A tireless advocate for cultural equity, Raim was a driving force in creating the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, which now supports more than 70 cultural organizations throughout the state to document, present, and sustain their traditions. Her passion for the folk and traditional arts is also embodied in her own artistic life as a leading singer of Yiddish folk songs. She teaches apprentices and continues to actively perform. The National Endowment for the Arts recognized Raim's seminal contributions with a 2018 National Heritage Fellowship, a lifetime achievement award that recognizes artistic excellence and continuing contributions to the nation’s traditional arts heritage.

Peter Rushefsky Peter Rushefsky

Peter Rushefsky is a klezmer musician and Executive Director of New York City's Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD), a leading folk/traditional arts organization based in New York City. Originally established as the Balkan Arts Center in 1968, CTMD assists the city's ethnic and immigrant communities in maintaining their traditions and cultural heritage. CTMD has developed a range of programs that emphasize research, documentation, collaboration, presentation, and education to help advance its mission of cultural equity. Rushefsky has served as CTMD’s Executive Director since 2006 following a successful career as a non-profit health care executive. He continues to perform and record internationally with violinist Itzhak Perlman, the renowned Klezmer Conservatory Band and NEA National Heritage Fellows Andy Statman and Michael Alpert among others. He has been featured at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Hollywood Bowl, and performed on the air for NPR’s Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered and PBS's Great Performances. Rushefsky curated the Yiddish performing arts program for the Smithsonian Institution’s 2013 Folklife Festival on the National Mall, helped to found the annual Yiddish New York festival, and has taught and organized numerous Yiddish folk arts workshops internationally. He has served as a grant panelist for New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. A graduate of Cornell University and the University of Michigan, Rushefsky has authored a number of published articles and other writings on traditional performing arts.

Herb E. Smith Herb E. Smith

Herb E. Smith is a co-founder of Appalshop, the internationally known arts and education center located in Whitesburg, Kentucky. He believes in the importance of place and seeing what can be done by staying in one place for a long time. Since 1969, when he was a high school student, Smith has played an active role in Appalshop, and continues to make films in the area where he was raised. His documentaries explore cultural, social and economic issues of the Appalachian region. His latest film, entitled, Our Kentucky River, follows the Commonwealth’s namesake river from its headwaters in the mountains of eastern Kentucky through the capital of Frankfort to the watershed’s confluence with the Ohio River at Carrollton. The 250-mile journey provides a unique look at the historical significance of the watershed and the current problems it faces, as well as the roles the river plays in the lives of Kentuckians.  Other films by Smith include The Ralph Stanley Story, and Thoughts in the Presence of Fear, based on an essay by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry. His documentaries and videotapes have been shown throughout the country in venues from community centers and union halls to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. International screenings of his work include Paris, Berlin, Rome, Calcutta, Bombay and Chengdu.

2:30 - Cultural Production, Activism, and a Creative Hub: The Drum and Spear Bookstore

Photograph of Drum and Spear book store, ca. 1968

Established in 1968 on Fairmont Street in Washington, DC, and operating until 1974, the bookstore (and its branch, Malezeo, located in the HUD building), was a creative hub for black power, black consciousness and internationalist activism. Founded by African-American civil rights veterans, the non-profit quickly became a leading space for cultural production and intellectual and political engagement in the city. Participants will reflect on the bookstore’s leading role in expanding critical consciousness about such issues as cultural democracy, race, activism, and the significance of place in the nation’s capital.

Presenter Biographies (alphabetical)

Reginald JacksonCourtland Cox

Courtland Cox is President of CCAP Consulting, LLC, Washington, DC and part of the DC Partners for the Revitalization of Education Projects team that works with District of Columbia Government to ensure compliance with federal and District law pertaining to CBE and workforce participation on all such projects. Other services to DC public government include: consultant to the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM); Director of Small, Local, Businesses Development for the DC Sports Entertainment Commission (DCSEC); consultant to the Anacostia Waterfront Commission, an agency charged with the development of the District's Southwest Waterfront.
Courtland Cox is a veteran of the civil rights struggle: he was one of the founding members (1960) of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), served as SNCC representative to the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963), organized SNCC volunteers during the Freedom Summer Project in Mississippi (1964), and helped establish the Lowndes County Freedom Party, Alabama (1964). In 1968, Cox and colleagues in the civil rights struggle founded the Drum & Spear bookstore and Drum & Spear Press. Drum & Spear Press published a number of books including work by C.L.R. James and children’s books and also produced the children's radio program entitled, "Sa Ya Watoto." More recently, in 2013, he led an initiative to establish the SNCC Legacy Project to document the contributions of SNCC's struggle for human and civil rights in America. In partnership with Duke University, the Legacy Project launched the SNCC Digital Gateway. portal in 2018. Courtland Cox's interview for the national Civil Rights History Project is available on-line from the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture here:

Photo of Joshua Davis Joshua Davis

Joshua Davis is assistant professor at the University of Baltimore, where he teaches and researches broadly on twentieth-century United States history with a focus on social movements, capitalism, urban history, and African American history. His book, From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs (Columbia University Press, 2017) examines how small businesses such as African American booksellers, natural food stores, head shops, and feminist enterprises emerged out of movements and countercultures in the 1960s and ‘70s and sought to advance justice and equality in the marketplace. Joshua's writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Slate, and Black Perspectives, and his research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fulbright Scholar Program. Joshua is also a devoted public historian with a deep interest in working with communities beyond universities. He serves on the advisory board of the Baltimore Uprising 2015 Archive Project and as a research associate for the Library of Congress’s Radio Preservation Task Force. He also co-directs Media and the Movement, a NEH-funded oral history and radio digitization project on activists of the Civil Rights and Black Power era who worked in media

Anthony Gittens Anthony Gittens

Anthony "Tony" Gittens is Founder and Director of the Washington, DC International Film Festival. Now in its 33rd year, Filmfest DC brings the best of new world cinema to the District of Columbia, including premieres, shorts and special events in an enjoyable atmosphere for film lovers, and Festival programming both entertains and provokes.  Previously, Gittens served as Executive Director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the official cultural agency of the District of Columbia, serving three mayors. He was a member of the Mayor’s Cabinet and represented the city's cultural interests at numerous gatherings and cultural settings. Gittens has received numerous acknowledgments in recognition of his contributions, including Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters, French Ministry of Culture and Communications; the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts; Professor Emeritus of the University of the District of Columbia; Member of the Washington, DC Hall of Fame and; Public Humanist of the Year by the Humanities Council of Washington. He was profiled in the PBS Eyes On the Prize television series for his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.

Charon Hribar Jennifer Lawson
Jennifer Lawson first marched for civil rights in 1963 as a sixteen-year old in the "Children’s Crusade," in support of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who had been jailed in Birmingham, AL. Jennifer and several of her fellow high-school students were arrested and threatened with expulsion from school, but the students were subsequently reinstated and celebrated for their activism and bravery in the face of police dogs and fire hoses. Jennifer attended Tuskegee University but left the university to work as a full-time volunteer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Mississippi in 1964 and Alabama in 1965. In Lowndes County, Alabama, she drew billboards and books in support of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, which publicized the work of the people of Lowndes and their political party's symbol, the black panther.
In 1968, she moved to Washington, DC and helped fellow SNCC veterans establish Drum and Spear Bookstore and Drum and Spear Press. She served as the interior designer and logo designer of the bookstore, illustrated and co-authored the book "Children of Africa" and oversaw the translation and publication of a Ki-Swahili version, "Watoto Wa Afrika," in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. She is currently a member of the SNCC Legacy Project and has been actively working in its partnership with Duke University to create the SNCC Digital Gateway, an on-line site that tells important stories of the civil rights movement through the eyes of participants, from the inside out and from the bottom up. The SNCC Digital Gateway can be found at Lawson's interview for the national Civil Rights History Project will be available on-line in Fall 2018 from the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Judy Richardson Judy Richardson

Judy Richardson was a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Georgia, Mississippi, and Lowndes Co., Alabama (1963-66) and ran the office for Julian Bond's successful first campaign for the Georgia House of Representatives. Her Movement involvement has strongly influenced her life's work, including her documentary film productions for broadcast and museums (including the award-winning 14-hour PBS series Eyes On The Prize, PBS' Malcolm X: Make It Plain, and all the "Little Rock 9" videos at the National Park Service Visitor Center, Arkansas), and in her writing, lecturing and workshops she conducts on the history and relevance of the Civil Rights Movement. In summer 2018, Richardson co-directed a three-week NEH teacher institute on the topic at Duke University. She is the co-producer/interviewer for the National Park Service's new orientation film for its Selma-to-Montgomery site.
In 1968, along with Movement colleagues, Richardson co-founded the Drum & Spear Bookstore in Washington, DC, which was once the largest African American bookstore in the country, and subsequently worked for a variety of social justice organizations. She co-edited the anthology, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC (UIP, 2012), with several female SNCC colleagues. The anthology includes the memoirs of fifty-two courageous women in the Southern Freedom Movement. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by Swarthmore College and was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Brown University (both in 2012). She serves on the Board of the SNCC Legacy Project, which collaborates with Duke University and others on SNCC's legacy and continuing work on contemporary issues, including conversations with the Movement for Black Lives. She is a member of the editorial board of Duke University's SNCC Digital Legacy website ( Richardson's interview for the national Civil Rights History Project will be available online in Fall 2018 from the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or [email protected]


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