Hopkinsville, KY – Round Table Literary Park, on the campus of Hopkinsville Community College (HCC) has been the home of Greco-Roman and English literature features for decades.
Nestled among a grove of trees, the park features King Arthur’s Sword in the Stone, a 22-thousand-pound replica of King Arthur’s Round Table, Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, a Greco-Roman amphitheater, a Medieval Wall, and the Delphian Tholos.
According to the inscription on the historic bronze marker at the Park’s entrance, “The Round Table and the Sword in the Stone, replicas from the Chivalric Age of King Arthur, were erected in the belief that the lofty ideals and standards of gentility that prevailed in Camelot can be renewed on the campus on Hopkinsville Community College since those virtues practiced by the knights of old transcend both time and space to enrich and ennoble the lives of all.”
Born of the vision and effort of longtime humanities and English professor, the late Frances Thomas, the first elements of the park were dedicated in 1974, almost 50 years ago. The last feature added to the park, the Tholos of Delphi was completed in 1996 and the park was dedicated to Thomas at that time.
The bronze plaque bearing Thomas’ likeness includes a quote from P. Unfried, “On the wind a gentle voice which called to life a soft vision in this wood where all may come and hear voices from the distant past calling in the wind.” Thomas, the first faculty advisor to the Round Table Literary journal passed away in 2012 at age 86. The family of Frances Thomas has endorsed the project enthusiastically.
With the addition of this new feature, HCC and HCC Foundation leaders hope to add to the voices, diversity, and points of view represented in the park. “We are so excited about what this statue represents to our community as we embrace the contributions of bell hooks to literature, and to contemporary discussions of race, class, sex, justice, feminism, and more,” shared HCC Foundation President Dr. Lana Bastin. The feature is aspirational in nature, and perhaps the only public sculpture of a child in Christian County.
The college will be working with UK Extension Agent Kelly Jackson and the University of Kentucky’s Department of Landscape Architecture, and Dr. Jayoung Koo, Associate Extension Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Faculty Director, Community Design Program Community and Economic Development of Kentucky (CEDIK) College of Agriculture, Environment and Food (CAFE) to develop the park and make continuous improvements designed to enhance the usability of the space for the community.
Working in tandem with its Foundation, the college intends to add QR code badging to features in the park that will enable visitors to learn more about the legend of King Arthur, Merlin, and Excalibur, Melpomene and mythology.
The addition of this technology will ensure that visitors learn more about bell hooks and her impact and influence on literature, social justice, racism, classism, sexism and more.
“This investment benefits our college community of course, but it also is an asset to the community at large and has the potential to be an attraction to visitors. It’s a tranquil, peaceful place for reflection, learning, reading and we look forward to sharing additional plans to expand Round Table Park as a user-friendly asset for our entire community,” Eastham added.
“We especially want children to visit, and as the additional learning features are added to the park, this becomes a dynamic learning environment for all,” HCC President Dr. Alissa Young commented.
“What we hope is that visitors now and generations from now will visit this beautiful child and consider how bell hooks wrote about the challenge of living in authentic love for humanity,” she continued.
Officials with the college had hoped to announce additions to the park prior to the death of bell hooks on December 15th, 2021, in Berea, Kentucky where she was the Distinguished Professor in Residence at Berea College, but hooks health declined precipitously, and that desire was unfulfilled. However, they have been in close contact with hooks’ sister, Gwenda Motley, who will join the celebration on September 25th.
“We want to inspire the next writer, artist, musician, teacher, pastor, actor, welder, childcare provider – everyone – with a visit to this special place representing all of us,” Young concluded.
A ticketed, catered buffet luncheon from Chef Teka and Southern Belle Catering to commemorate what would have been bell hooks’ 70th birthday is set for Sunday, September 25th, beginning at 1:30pm in the Anderson Room of the Emerging Technologies Building.
The luncheon will feature a short program, and guests will then be invited to walk across campus to Round Table Literary Park for brief remarks and the unveiling of the feature.
A limited number of tickets to the luncheon are available for $20.00 and can be purchased on EventBrite: www.eventbrite.com/e/bell-hooks-round-table-park-luncheon-and-feature-reveal-tickets-410000962917.