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Literary trail begins with Demopolis stop

Published 5:32pm Friday, February 8, 2013

A pair of renowned educators will recall their experiences with high school segregation when the Southern Literary Trail makes a stop in Demopolis next Friday.

Bert Hitchcock graduated from Demopolis High School in 1959, two years after Cecelia Arrington earned her degree from U.S. Jones High School in 1957.

Though both excelled academically, particularly in writing and literature, Arrington and Hitchcock never knew each other as high schools students since they attended racially separated schools.

The two will meet at last on Friday, Feb. 15 at the Marengo County History and Archives Museum for a program entitled “Writing from a Time of Separation.” The program is free to attend and will start at 6 p.m. The museum is located at 101 North Walnut Street in Demopolis.

After graduating from U.S. Jones, Arrington earned her M.A. in education at San Francisco State University and Ph.D. at Western Colorado University. She served as the department chairperson of ethnic studies at Merritt College in Oakland, Calif. for almost 25 years.

Her autobiography, “The Life and Confessions of A Black Studies Teacher” (Bye Publishing Company, 2002), opens poignantly with a chapter about her childhood in the era of Jim Crow and with the line: “Demopolis, Demopolis, I have always loved this city.”

Arrington’s family was active at Morning Star Baptist Church, where a Sunday school classroom is named in honor of her mother Stella Collins Arrington.

Bert Hitchcock began his career at Auburn University in 1966 as an instructor of English. For 13 years, he was head of Auburn’s English Department, from which he retired in 2008 as Professor Emeritus and as the Hargis Professor of American Literature. He is the recipient of the prestigious Alabama Humanities Award from the Alabama Humanities Foundation and the son of former Demopolis City Schools superintendent “Bully” Hitchcock.

His publications include a contribution to the book of essays about Mobile writer Albert Murray titled “Albert Murray and the Aesthetic Imagination of A Nation” (University of Alabama Press, 2010).

Before Friday night’s event, Arrington and Hitchcock will speak to John Essex and Demopolis students.

The Marengo County History and Archives Museum, the Southern Literary Trail and the Marengo County Historical Society will sponsor the program. The event is co-sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Southern Literary Trail is the nation’s only tri-state literary trail, connecting Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. For more information about its programs, visit southernliterarytrail.org.

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