Johnny Cash Heritage Festival seeks virtual presentations

by George Jared ([email protected]) 231 views 

The Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home is seeking presentations as part of the virtual 2021 Johnny Cash Heritage Festival scheduled for Oct. 15-16. The event, in its 10th year, returns after the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation in 2020.

This year’s theme is “Social Justice in the Life and Music of Johnny Cash.” The Dyess Colony was a federal project designed to provide relief from the Great Depression to 500 families, including the Cash family, by making it possible for them to start farms.

“This environment no doubt had an effect on Cash and his career. He embraced his own social justice causes, such as prison reform and Native American rights. He never forgot Dyess and the struggles and triumphs of the people who lived there, the people who were among the ‘poor and beaten down’ for whom he wore black,” said Dr. Adam Long, executive director of Arkansas Heritage Sites.

Proposals are invited for virtual presentations that consider Cash and the pursuit of social justice. Topics can include:

  • The life and lifeways of the people of the Dyess Colony during the Great Depression.
  • Social justice movements in the Arkansas Delta (public, private and organized labor).
  • Social justice in Johnny Cash’s music (Folsom Prison, Bitter Tears, the Great Depression in song).
  • Social justice in Cash’s musical influences and in his contemporaries.

As Arkansas is replacing its two statues in National Statuary Hall with sculptures of Cash and Arkansas civil rights leader Daisy Gatson Bates, the social justice theme seems appropriate, Long said. The pairing of these two Arkansans invites consideration of not only Cash’s musical contributions but also his contributions to building a more just society.

Proposals are especially welcome that break away from the standard format of reading research papers, appealing to specialists and non-specialists alike. Research and artistic presentations that incorporate music, images, film, etc., will be given first preference.

The deadline for application is June 30. Submit an abstract of 150 words, as well as a brief bio and two-page CV to [email protected] Presentations will be displayed virtually, so include a statement about virtual presentation preference (Zoom panel, pre-recorded presentation, etc.) and any technology needs.

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