Founders Memorial Library Exhibits

Deeds not Words: Women and the Vote

October 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020

Deeds not Words: Women and the Vote explores the story of female suffrage through a multi-focal lens: examining the local, national, and international debates surrounding voting rights through the use of text, sound, and image, while offering a historical, cultural, and political context that illuminates voting and voting rights in the 21st century.

Will Marion Cook: Musical Activism 100 Years Ago

October 15, 2020 - December 31, 2020

Will Marion Cook, January 27, 1869 to July 19, 1944, was recognized for his originality as a composer and for pioneering progress and transformation in black musical comedy, popular music, and syncopated orchestral music. He mentored many musicians, most notably Duke Ellington, jazz musician, Margaret Bonds, composer and pianist, and Eva Jessye, choral conductor. He studied violin at Oberlin Conservatory the mid 1880s and went on to study with Joseph Joachim in Germany. Cook returned from Europe in 1890 and continued performing on his violin, took up conducting, and began composing. He attended the National Conservatory of Music and studied with Antonín Dvorák. Shortly thereafter, Cook collaborated with Paul Laurence Dunbar, poet, on a ragtime operetta called Clorindy, or The Origin of the Cakewalk. It was the first all-black musical to appear on Broadway which introduced the style of syncopated song and dance to the art form. He continued making strides in musical theatre, vaudeville, and popular music. His In Dahomey, written in 1902, was the first full length musical written and performed by all black people on Broadway. It went on to be performed across the ocean, in London and at Buckingham Palace.

Cook's use of syncopation and chromaticism in popular song writing made him unique among his contemporaries. He wrote many songs about love and patriotism, but he also wrote songs that focused on Negro stereotypes, African folk themes, and ethnic humor.

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Founders Memorial Library
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DeKalb, IL 60115-2828
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