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Cultural Heritage Lecture Series to present “Beyond the River in Music and Words” on Feb. 15

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will continue its Cultural Heritage Lecture Series with author, journalist and educator Ann Hagedorn, and singer/songwriter Allen Schwartz in a program entitled “Beyond the River in Music and Words” on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006 at 7 p.m., in the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. A question and answer period will close the program. The event is free and open to the public.

The program is based on Hagedorn’s nonfiction book Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad. The book tells the remarkable story of the participants in the Ripley line of the Underground Railroad in Ohio and of John Rankin, leader of the line, who placed a lantern in the window of his house every night for nearly 40 years to guide fugitive slaves to freedom beyond the river. One of the earliest leaders of the antislavery movement, Rankin became nationally renowned after the publication of his Letters on American Slavery, a collection of letters he wrote to persuade his brother in Virginia to renounce slavery.

Beyond the River takes readers to another era and helps them understand the great social movement known as the Underground Railroad. The book was selected as a 2004 Most Notable Book by the American Library Association. Noted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. calls it “as vivid in its narration as it is scrupulous in its scholarship.”

Hagedorn was born in Dayton, Ohio, and earned degrees from Denison University, the University of Michigan and Columbia University. She began her journalism career covering business news and white-color crime at the San Jose Mercury News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News. She also has taught narrative nonfiction at Northwestern University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She has written two previous books, Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc. and Ransom: The Untold Story of International Kidnapping.

Schwartz has been writing songs for more than 30 years. He plays the guitar, mandolin, violin, dulcimer, and concertina and has performed throughout North America, Mexico and Europe. After reading Beyond the River, Schwartz was inspired to write songs depicting the struggle and courage of those working together to bring equality and freedom to all Americans.

The evening’s program, presented in conjunction with Black History Month, will combine readings from the book, visual images and Schwartz’s original songs based on the book.

For more information about the Cultural Heritage Lecture Series, call (304) 558-0162. Next month’s program will feature William C. Blizzard, son of labor leader Bill Blizzard, who led the “Red Neck Army” at the Battle of Blair Mountin in 1921, and wrote When Miners March, on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 p.m.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Media Note: Ann Hagedorn can be reached by phone in Ripley, Ohio at (937) 392-1667.

Ginny Painter
Director of Public Information
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Phone (304) 558-0220
Fax (304) 558-2779
ginny.painter@wvculture.org