Folklorist Gary Carden, assisted by Pam Meister, curator of the Mountain Heritage Center at WCU, will present “Madison,” on the stage of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Franklin, 89 Sierra Drive, Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m.
“Madison” is the life story of Dr. Robert Lee Madison, who in the 1880’s promoted the idea of a school that would train teachers for the mountain schools. Dr. Madison came to the area to finish out the school year for his brother and found that he liked teaching very much even though it paid very little. He added to his income by writing for the local paper. His dream of a school that would train teachers began to look more promising when nine successful farmers from the area, later known as the Noble Nine, looked for a school and teachers to educate their school age children. Their funding launched a renewed interest in acquiring land and constructing housing for a new school.
Over the years, Dr. Madison persisted in his desire to establish a training school in the Appalachian Mountains. Funding was the impediment that had to be overcome. There were a few grants, the Peabody Grant was an early grant that was awarded to students who agreed to teach at least two years in the local system. State funding would not be available until the the 1920s.
Madison’s progressive idea evolved through the years from the small Cullowhee Academy where he began to become the Western Carolina University that we know today.
This presentation will honor two important men in our intellectual life. Gary Carden, who is a member of the Franklin UU Fellowship, holds degrees including an Honorary Doctorate from Western Carolina University. In 2012 he received the highest honor the Governor and the State of North Carolina can bestow in the Literary Arts.
Carden wrote this monologue to celebrate the life of Dr. Robert Lee Madison, the first president of WCU, whose guidance and persistence, made possible a university education for himself and for the Appalachian Mountain population.
Tickets for “Madison” are available at the Franklin Chamber of Commerce, (828)524-3161; the UU Fellowship of Franklin, 89 Sierra Dr., (828)524-6777; or at the door the night of the performance.