May 13, 2021
To register for this online lecture, go here.
From the Bryan Museum:
“In the spring of 1957, Barbara Louise Smith was a 19-year-old African American music student in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas. A transfer student from historically black Prairie View A&M, Smith arrived in Austin in the fall of 1956 to study with Edra Gustafson, a well-regarded music professor. That fall, a faculty committee chose Smith—who many people said had the best soprano voice of anyone in her class—to play the female lead in Purcell’s opera, Dido and Aeneas. Based on Virgil’s “Aeneid,” the opera is a classic recounting of the tragic love between Dido, queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, the Trojan prince. Because the committee had chosen two white men—David Blanton and David Richards—to play the role of Aeneas, the opera would have an interracial cast. The consequence of Smith were heartbreaking. How ironic the opening lines of the opera proved to be: “Oh my sorrow. I am possessed with torment. Peace and I are strangers grown.”
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
About the Presenter:
Dr. Dwonna Naomi Goldstone grew up in Moline, Illinois, (home of the John Deere Tractor) and received her B.A. in American Studies and a minor in African American Studies from the University of Iowa. After receiving her M.A.T. in Secondary English Education from Brown University, Dr. Goldstone taught high school English in Fairfax County, Virginia, where she also coached 9th-grade girls’ basketball and boys’ and girls’ track. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in American Civilization, and her book—Integrating the Forty Acres: A Fifty-Year Struggle for Racial Equality at the University of Texas—won the Coral H. Tullis Memorial Prize for the best book on Texas history. Before arriving at Texas State in August 2019, Dr. Goldstone spent 18 years at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, where she taught English and coordinated their African American Studies minor. She is happy to be here with her three dogs—Lena Horne, Ernie Banks, and Ralph Ellison.
Dr. Goldstone is currently working on three essays—one about Barbara Conrad Smith, a black undergraduate student at the University of Texas in its first year of integration (1956-7) who was removed from the school’s opera; a second titled “Teaching While Black: A Black Professor in Trump Land”; and a third on teaching feminism in a men’s prison. She recently taught a class at the Lois DeBerry Special Needs prison in Nashville, Tennessee, and her students read feminist novels such as Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie. Her goal is to create an inside/out program at a prison in Texas, where Texas State students will take a class with students who are incarcerated.”
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