On July 23, historian Ralph Young used the Amphitheater stage to discuss dissent and its prominence in American history — from the first pilgrims who voyaged to America in the 17th century to the counterculture movements of the 1970s.
“American history has traditionally been taught emphasizing exploits of presidents, politicians, diplomats and generals,” Young said during his lecture. “But there is a case to be made that ordinary people, that grassroots movements, can move and shape history just as much as the powerful.”
From July 24 to 26 in Smith Wilkes Hall, Young spoke to members of the Bestor Society and Eleanor B. Daugherty Society about dissent in America during the Scholar in Residence program. Starting at 8:30 a.m. each morning until 10:15 a.m., he discussed the roots of dissent in America, beginning in 15th-century Europe to the modern era.
Members of the Bestor Society include Chautauquans who donate $3,500 or more to the Chautauqua Fund each year, and those who join the Daugherty Society have included Chautauqua in their will or have made a planned gift. Since 1991, the Scholar in Residence program has been a way for the Chautauqua Foundation to thank these donors for their support.
“The first thank you, of course, goes to all of you,” said Geof Follansbee, vice president of development and Chautauqua Foundation chief executive officer, as he opened the program on July 24. “It is your philanthropy that allows Chautauqua Institution to flourish.”
The Scholar in Residence program has been funded by the Edward L. Anderson Jr. Foundation for the past eight seasons. The Anderson Foundation supports arts, educational and environmental events and initiatives put on by various organizations.
“Chautauqua is one of the largest recipients from the foundation,” said Steven Anderson, president of the foundation and son of the late Edward L. Anderson Jr. “My dad spent seven weeks a year for 40 years there. … He loved dance, opera and just about everything that went on there.”
Steven Anderson described his father as someone who had a passion for learning, and the foundation carries on his legacy. The Scholar in Residence program explores a different topic every year, and he said his family’s foundation hopes to continue funding for future years.
This season, Young touched on a number of topics throughout the three-day program and how those topics related to the roots of dissent in America. He discussed the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and connected that movement to the pilgrims settling in the new world.
He went on to talk about the Revolutionary War, Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” in addition to other issues and events, spanning 600 years of history.
Anderson Jr.’s son, Dave Anderson, thought the program was “excellent.”
“Over the last few years, the Institution has looked at some different things, moving away from geopolitical discussion into other areas,” Dave Anderson said. “I thought this was a great extension of that, and (it) fit very well with the overall week theme as well.”
For more information about special seminars like the Scholar in Residence program or giving opportunities at Chautauqua, please contact Megan Sorenson, associate director of the Chautauqua Fund, at 716-357-6243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.