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Libraries to host storyteller performing as suffragist

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 16th, 2020
Ilene Evans performing as suffragist Coralie Franklin Cook.

In commemoration of the Suffrage Centennial, the WVU Libraries’ Art in the Libraries Virtual Program will host West Virginia storyteller Ilene Evans performing as suffragist Coralie Franklin Cook on Friday, Sept. 25, from noon-1 p.m.

Cook (1861-1941) was a gifted orator and respected leader in women’s suffrage, temperance, the fine arts and education. After graduating from Storer College at Harpers Ferry in 1881, she became the school’s first female instructor of African American descent. Cook went on to teach elocution at Howard University, establishing it as a permanent part of the curriculum and the foundation of their drama department.

This event is in conjunction with WVU Libraries’ exhibition Undefeated: Canvas(s)ing the Politics Around Voter Suppression Since Women’s Suffrage  and in partnership with the West Virginia Women Vote of Morgantown coalition. Register here:

Evans is an inventive storyteller weaving music, dance, and drama to bring history alive. As artistic director of the theater company Voices from the Earth, she creates educational theater programs and workshops that span a range of arts and humanities. Evans tours internationally, portraying women of color who changed the world, including Carrie Williams, Memphis Tennessee Garrison, Elizabeth Catlett Mora and Bessie Coleman.

Evans will be introduced by Charlene Marshall, former Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing District 51 from 2004 to 2014. During her tenure, she served as House Chaplain. 

The Undefeated exhibit, currently available online, will be on display in the Downtown Campus Library in Spring 2021. It is partially sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council and cohosted by the Morgantown National Organization for Women.

This event is among a number of programs initiated by a coalition of area groups to promote awareness for the Suffrage Centennial. Upcoming virtual programs coordinated by Art in the Libraries include:

  • Becky Cain, former national League of Women Voters president to speak on the impact of voter registration and turnout on Oct. 9 from noon-1 p.m.
  • Women of Appalachia Spoken Word event on Oct. 17 from 1-3 p.m.
  • Atiba Ellis, Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School on democracy, voting, and race on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m.

Sign language interpreting and captioning services are available by request for participants who are deaf or hard of hearing. To request an Interpreter or Captioner please contact at least three business days prior to this event.

For more information or to get invitations to these events contact Sally Brown Deskins, WVU Libraries exhibits coordinator, at

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