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[Audio] Pennyroyal Arts Council Kicks Off "The Big Read" Thursday in Hopkinsville

This week, the Pennyroyal Arts Council kicks off "The Big Read," a six-week community wide reading adventure, with the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The focus honors Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The kick-off event welcomes special guest speaker Mary Badham the actress who played Scout in the 1962 film, a dramatic performance, a gospel choir, film clips, art from local high schools and free books. On Sounds Good, Matt Markgraf speaks with Alissa Keller about the schedule of events through November.

They chose To Kill a Mockingbird this year because it tells a regional story set in the South, Keller says. Themes coming out of the book involve race relations in the South in the 1930s, the idea of racial inequality and acceptance and the juxtaposition of the two. This is great for Hopkinsville, she says, since the community is very diverse to use the book and events as a starting point for dialog.

On October 22, WKMS is hosting and moderating a panel discussion on race relations in Hopkinsville titled "Where are we now, where do we want to be and how do we get there" with community leaders generating a discussion on issues facing Hopkinsville today. On November 11, Jennifer Brown of Hopkinsville New Era examines "The Dark Side of Hopkinsville" - the short story collection by Ted Poston, an African American man who graduated from a local black high school in 1924 and went on to become the first black journalist at a major newspaper in New York.

The Pennyroyal Area Museum holds a special exhibit examining how Christian County resembles Maycomb County, Alabama, with a cast of local characters from history. Keller says the exhibit compares and contrasts the two communities and finds local versions of Atticus Finch, Scout and Boo Radley. These characters and more come to life on Friday, October 30 in "Supper in the Cemetery," an evening where one can tour the tombstones and learn how historical figures had an influence on the community.

Another comparison event on October 19, takes a look at the 1954 murder trial in Hopkinsville, where local attorneys faced a similar situation to Atticus Finch. Wynn Radford's research takes a look at the case where two African American men were accused of shooting and killing a liquor store owner in Oak Grove. The exploration of the paper is not so much about the criminal side of the case, but rather the defensive side - did the white lawyers defend the black men with the same level of justice Atticus Finch gave in the story?

On the lighter side of events, teams can get together on October 10 at the Hopkinsville Christian County Public Library to create a Rube Goldberg machine with the goal of opening a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. The idea behind these machines is to create something very elaborate and creative to conduct a simple task. Teams will be judged on their creativity and complexity.

The Boo Radley Festival on Halloween is a family fall festival in the morning, with a scavenger hunt along the Greenway Rail Trail, pumpkin decorating and more activities from 9 a.m. to Noon. At 11:30, William Turner tells the legend of the Bell Witch. In the book, Boo Radley leaves trinkets in trees, so those will be hidden along the trail for children and families to find. Also, ham costumes are encouraged.

Other events include movie showings at the Alhambra, book discussions on Wednesday afternoons at Books on Main downtown, Thursday evening programs at the library include talks about mockingbird and magnolia stereotypes in Southern literature and recipes for Southern cooking. The festivities cap off with Atticus in the Courtroom - reprising the events from the book at the Christian County Courthouse.

See the full schedule on The Big Read Website

Pennyroyal Arts Council on Facebook

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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