2017 Lecture Series
Mr. Ty Gray-EL
July 20, 7:30pm
Greenbelt Community Center
15 Crescent Road
Greenbelt, MD 20770
We are so pleased to welcome lecturer, educator, and spoken word artist Ty Gray-EL to our lecture series. Mr. Gray-EL grew up in Washington, D.C. at Langston Terrace, a New Deal-era apartment complex built by the federal government for predominantly African American families. Langston Terrace was designed by prominent African American architect, Hilyard Robinson and
opened in 1938 making it contemporary with Greenbelt. Mr. Gray-EL speaks across the country, and "confronts the issues of racism and bigotry with poetic compassion, dramatic storytelling, and historical fact while weaving a tapestry of tolerance and hope." (Ty Gray-EL website)
As in so many other publicly funded housing projects of the era, art was featured at Langston Terrace and situated in a courtyard in the center of the apartment buildings was a playground for children with large sculpted animals on which they could climb (see photo on the left). One of these, a frog, was sculpted by Lenore Thomas Straus, whose bas reliefs grace Greenbelt's Community Center (originally Center School) and whose huge Mother and Child statue anchors the center of historic Greenbelt. Mr. Gray-EL remembers climbing on the frog and speaks movingly, not just about growing up at Langston Terrace, but about so much more.
Mr. Gray-EL describes himself as a "cultural enrichment specialist who uses spoken word and storytelling to raise self-esteem among African Americans in particular and the African Diaspora at-large. As a change agent, he lectures all over the country." He is an internationally renowned storyteller, a two-time Spoken Word Billboard Award winner, and was recently selected as the National Spokesperson for the Spoken Word Billboard Award Association. He is also the author of Breath of My Ancestors: Reflections from the Conscience of an African in America, copies of which will be for sale at the lecture. Copies can also be purchased online, at Ty Gray-EL's website.
Lectures take place in the Greenbelt Community Center, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt MD 20770 and are free and open the public. This lecture is offered in conjunction with the current exhibit, The Knowing Hands That Carve This Stone: The New Deal Art of Lenore Thomas Straus and is sponsored by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.