November 17, 2022 [Los Angeles, CA] The Federation of State Humanities Councils (Federation) presented the 2022 Schwartz Prize for outstanding work in the public humanities to: Hawai’i Council for the Humanities in the council-conducted category for its Why It Matters, Civic and Electoral Participation and Oklahoma Humanities in the grant-funded category for Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commemoration Initiative last Friday, November 11 at the National Humanities Conference.

“The successes of this year’s winners illustrate tenets that will inspire the public humanities community across the nation,” said Phoebe Stein, president of the Federation State Humanities Councils. “We are pleased to recognize two of our member Councils for their multi-faceted, innovative programmatic approaches that at their heart have deepened community connections.”

About Hawai’i Council for the Humanities’
Why It Matters, Civic and Electoral Participation

Photo: Lauren Hartmann

The Why It Matters Civic and Electoral Participation program innovatively engaged a number of different audiences, presenters, and media to connect the history and culture of Hawai’i with existing communities. Hawai’i Humanities started with gathering civic engagement partners and leaders to discuss the successes and challenges of voting initiatives. An electoral initiative emerged from these conversations, educating citizens how to interact with local government processes and inspiring them to get involved. Hawai’i Humanities formed monthly discussion groups with its partners to examine how the humanities can help strengthen civic engagement. This way of working collectively has served as a model for future council partnerships that will create a greater community impact.

A second vehicle Hawai’i Humanities utilized to strengthen civic community was the Why It Matters Poetry Workshop Series. The series connected poets across the islands who shared skillsets that could help strengthen civic communities. This initiative ultimately blossomed into a new state poet laureate program; in fall 2022, the Hawai’i Legislature recognized the initiative through a bi-cameral resolution.

For nearly 50 years, Hawai’i Council for the Humanities has conducted and supported Hawai’i public programs in humanities disciplines (seeking to describe and understand this universe with depth, breadth, and imagination) that provide broader context and perspective for thinking more deeply about our cultures and our times. Visit for more information.

About Oklahoma Humanities’
Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commemoration Initiative

Photo: Lauren Hartmann

The Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commemoration Initiative is a multi-year, multi-faceted combination of grants, programs, and partnerships that focuses on what was one of the worst acts of acts of racial violence in America. The Tulsa Race Massacre, which took place in 1921, is an event that remains largely unknown among many American communities. Though the initiative culminated in 2021, Oklahoma Humanities’ planning and execution of the initiative was years in the making.

Involving more than 50 organizations and partners and serving millions to date, the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commemoration Initiative increased awareness of the Massacre and its impact on Oklahoma and the nation. The initiative has expanded knowledge and understanding about the lasting legacy of destruction and rebirth in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District and Black Wall Street, and highlighted the role of the humanities as critical guardrails for difficult conversations around race and reconciliation. The programs and scholar lectures generated from this initiative live on perpetuity online, and the “bricks and mortar” programmatic components make content accessible in-person for generations to come.

Since the founding of Oklahoma Humanities as an independent nonprofit in 1971, its programs, grants and partnerships have used humanities scholarship to promote critical thinking and community building. Learn more about its unique access to resources that benefit people and communities across Oklahoma at

About the Schwartz Prize

Since 1982, the Federation has awarded the Schwartz Prize to up to three councils for outstanding work in the public humanities each year. The prize was established by founding Federation board member Martin Schwartz and his wife, Helen. The Schwartz Prize judges are selected from humanities partners, former board members, and council board and staff of the prior year’s winners. For more information, visit

The Federation of State Humanities Councils:

The Federation of State Humanities Councils (Federation) was founded in 1977 as the membership association of state and territorial councils. The Federation provides support for the state humanities councils and strives to create greater awareness of the humanities in public and private life. For more information about the Federation, visit:

The state humanities councils are independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations supporting grassroots humanities programs and community-based activities. Humanities councils were created by Congress in the early 1970s and receive an annual congressional appropriation through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which most councils supplement with private funding. For more information about the state humanities councils, visit

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