A crowd gathered for the John A. Lomax National Literary Landmark Award Ceremony and Plaque Unveiling in Meridian last Saturday.
Lomax was an American folk music scholar, musicologist, author and teacher that grew up on a farm in North Bosque County. His life’s work culminated in documenting more than 10,000 songs for the Library of Congress. These included frontier ballads sung by cowboys on on the nearby Chisholm Trail, those in prison, African American spirituals, and more.
The program opened with Lomax Recordings, followed by an introduction by Meridian Public Library President Pam Hardcastle. She introduced Meridian Police Chief Blake Johnson, who led the invocation for the crowd.
Following the prayer, Andrea Dunn led the crowd with an a capella version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Those gathered followed her lead, removing hats and placing hands over hearts.
Jack Walker presented some cowboy poetry and fun tales involving horses and rustlers, to the response of laughs from the audience.
Meridian Public Library Executive Director Marianne Woerner acknowledged the efforts of Lomax, the state of Texas, and the local library for efforts in making amphitheater a nationally-recognized landmark. She introduced Rebekah Manley of the Texas Center for the Book, who gave a speech and big nod to the significance of Lomax’s body of work.
Recently-appointed Texas State Librarian Gloria Meraz highlighted the significance of momuments and landmarks like the John A. Lomax Amphitheater in Texas communities, big and small, and their importance.
Don Nicholas represented Texas fCongressman Roger Williams at the event, reading a letter from Williams and presenting Woerner with an American flag.
Anna Lomax Wood took the podium, telling stories from the family about their ancestor. Several others from the family were present, having traveled from elsewhere in Texas to join in on the ceremony.
At the end, she sang some verse that was handed down from family member to family member. Lomax Wood is an anthropologist, ethnomusicologist and public folklorist. She serves as President of the Association for Cultural Equity.
With speakers and acknowledgements granted, the Meridian Public Library Board and Lomax family present moved to unveil the monument.
Some final touches will be completed in the near future, like the name John A. Lomax Amphitheater underneath the plaque. Portions will be completed as the Chisholm Trail Plaza next door is finished up.
The group chatted and moved into the Meridian Civic Center for the video “John A. Lomax – A Man and His Legacy” from Will Godby, which can be viewed here. Still, the City of Meridian, Meridian Parks & Rec, the Meridian Public Library, and even officials from the state of Texas welcomed the nod to a Meridian man that impacted countless folk artists, and Americana itself.
For more on the ceremony and dedication, listen to our podcast below.