Dr. Gladys Caines-Coggswell and Angela J. Williams, BA, bring to the stage stories of the African American experience in Missouri.

Bicentennial storytelling series sponsored by Mid-Continent Public Library gets a financial push

William T. Kemper Foundation Awards $10K for Library’s ‘State of Stories’ Virtual Event Series

MCPL Receives Grant for Bicentennial Program Series

The Mid-Continent Public Library has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation—Commerce Bank, Trustee, in support of its ongoing State of Stories series, offered by the Library’s Story Center in partnership with the University of Missouri Extension Community Arts Program.

State of Stories is a year-long initiative developed in recognition of the Missouri bicentennial that explores the state’s complex history and culture through storytelling performances and workshops, book conversations, presentations, a publication, and other activities. In addition to the Kemper Foundation, funding for these programs has been provided by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“We’re grateful to the William T. Kemper Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation for their support of this series,” said Mark Livengood, Story Center Director. “Through the incredible work of exemplary storytellers, authors, and scholars, this series highlights events, expressions, and people in our state’s history, helping us learn and gain inspiration for the future.”

A cornerstone of State of Stories is oral storytelling, with performances and workshops by master Missouri storytellers. Performances will entertain and educate audiences of all ages, while workshops will help emerging storytellers develop skills and techniques for researching and telling historical stories.

Upcoming State of Stories programs include:

  • Stories from Family and Community – Friday, February 19, at 6:30 p.m. (MCPL Story Center Facebook page) – Wonderfully blending tradition and performance, Dr. Gladys Caines-Coggswell and Angela J. Williams, BA, bring to the stage stories of the African American experience in Missouri. They will share stories that they’ve learned from their family and community members. Some stories reach back to the days of slavery. Others were shared or collected during Coggswell’s research for her book, Stories from the Heart: Missouri’s African American Heritage. They also perform stories about their personal experiences.
  • Developing & Telling Historical, Family, and/or Community Stories – Saturday, February 20, at 10:30 a.m. (Zoom) – Dr. Gladys Caines-Coggswell collected stories from many of Missouri’s African American communities in her book Stories from the Heart: Missouri’s African American Heritage. Angela J. Williams, BA, one of the contributors, will share the interviewing process that she used for the book. In this workshop, you will learn the art of collecting, researching, writing and/or telling historical and/or personal stories.
  • The State of the State: Missouri Writers on Missouri – Tuesday, March 2, 6:30 p.m. (MCPL Story Center Facebook page) – Dr. Sam Cohen, Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia, describes what the work of Missouri writers—from William Wells Brown, considered to be the first published African American novelist and playwright, to Hannibal’s Mark Twain, to Moberly’s Jack Conroy, St. Louis’ T. S. Eliot, and more—can tell us about the state of our state and its history.

Registration for these and future State of Stories events, as well as additional information about the series, can be found at mymcpl.org/StateofStories.

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