WNC LEGACY: WRITING, LITERATURE, ENVIRONMENTALIST Wilma Dykeman – help preserve a legacy
Offered by Jim Stokely
The Wilma Dykeman Legacy sponsors talks, workshops, events and other activities that sustain the values for which Wilma Dykeman stood: Environmental integrity – Social justice – The power of the written and spoken word.
Who is Wilma Dykeman?
Wilma Dykeman (1920 – 2006) was a writer, speaker, teacher, historian, & environmentalist. She traveled and spoke widely but spent most of her life in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.
Among her many achievements, she made the first full-fledged economic argument against water pollution in her 1955 book The French Broad (seven years before Rachel Carson),and she won the Sidney Hillman Award for the best book of the year on social justice.
She wrote the novel The Tall Woman that has sold more than 200,000 copies. She taught creative writing & Appalachian literature at the University of Tennessee for over 20 years. She served on the boards of Berea College & the University of North Carolina at Asheville and she served as Tennessee State Historian for over 20 years. ( See Wikipedia/Wilma Dykeman for more information about her life, work, public events and awards. ) Click here for The Dykeman Legacy Press featuring recommended books and authors.
Here are the values and ideals that Wilma stood for, lived for and wrote about tirelessly. Click here to become a Friend of Wilma Dykeman and help us preserve the legacy of our mountain South’s greatest humanist of the 20th century.
* The quote of Wilma’s that I love best comes from Neither Black Nor White and illustrates her groundbreaking 1957 call to justice for the land, water and marginalized people (in this case, African-Americans): “As we have misused our richest land, we have misused ourselves; as we have wasted our bountiful water, we have wasted ourselves; as we have diminished the lives of one whole segment of our people, we have diminished ourselves.”
* The Legacy was established in the spring of 2012. We now have over 100 Friends of Wilma Dykeman who contribute funds to the organization.
* Almost all our programs are free and open to the general public. Our programs focusing on the power of the written and spoken word tend to attract older white people. Our programs focusing on environmental integrity attract young and old alike, and our programs on social justice draw more diverse audiences.
* Confronting the Silence has been a real success for both the Legacy and the author. We sold out our first printing of 500 copies and ordered 2,000 more. The book has been chosen as a semi-finalist for the Thomas Wolfe Book Award, awarded annually by the Western North Carolina Historical Association. The Dykeman Legacy Press, a division of the Wilma Dykeman Legacy, will occasionally publish high-quality original material illuminating life in the Southern Appalachian region or issues of environmental integrity or social justice. A Publishing Committee, composed of selected members of the Legacy’s Board of Directors, acts as the Press’s editorial advisory board and reviews submitted manuscripts for possible publication.
* The Legacy’s full Board of Directors meets quarterly and brainstorms future programs. When a particular idea is fleshed out enough, we complete a Partnership Form identifying a partner organization, our objective, benefits to the Legacy and to our new partner, and a timeline showing who needs to do what by when. Two new partnerships are:
– helping the Center for Cultural Preservation, based in Hendersonville, find financial support for a documentary film on Wilma Dykeman and the French Broad River watershed; and
– working with the Laughing Heart Literary Festival and high school teachers in Madison County to produce classroom materials and train teachers on Teaching Wilma Dykeman. If an initial teacher’s institute in Marshall in the early summer of 2018 is a success, we will focus on teaching another Southern mountain writer in 2018-19.
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