Mississippi Humanities Council and Oregon Humanities Win Schwartz Prizes for Outstanding Humanities Programming

Winning programs use engagement strategies, storytelling, and local organizations and communities to address racial equity issues and uncover hidden histories of belonging, place, and race

[Nov. 10, 2018 – New Orleans, LA] The Federation of State Humanities Councils presented the 2018 Schwartz Prize for outstanding work in the public humanities to two state humanities councils: the Mississippi Humanities Council for its “Racial Equity Grant Program” and Oregon Humanities for “This Land,” on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at the National Humanities Conference in New Orleans, LA.

“This year’s Schwartz Prize winners demonstrate the unique ability of councils to empower, engage, support, and strengthen communities all around their state by creating opportunities for people to come together, share stories, and grow in understanding through exploring difficult, but important, social issues,” said Esther Mackintosh, president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. “These programs draw out hidden histories and confront issues of race, belonging, and identity in ways that work to connect, and not divide, communities. We couldn’t be more proud to present the 2018 Schwartz Prize to both the Mississippi and Oregon humanities councils.”

About the Mississippi Humanities Council’s “Racial Equity Grant Program:”

According to its nominating statement, the “Racial Equity Grant Program” funds grassroots’ efforts across Mississippi to use the humanities to address the history of racism and its continuing impact on Mississippi. As the state approached its bicentennial in 2017 and as new state history and civil rights museums were being built, the Mississippi Humanities Council developed this program to empower local communities. The council secured significant funding from The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and hired a part-time community outreach coordinator to seek out, help develop, and support 45 different organizations across the state as they worked with their local communities to find ways to address racial issues and their lingering effects on communities. More than 50 different public humanities programs over the course of two years were conducted.  View the nominating statement.

Judges praised the program for its collaboration that “raised important and long overdue conversations” and applauded the council’s “willingness to take risks, to adapt when things didn’t work, and to create opportunities for some longer-term projects.”

About Mississippi Humanities Council

The Mississippi Humanities Council creates opportunities for Mississippians to learn about themselves and the larger world and enriches communities through civil conversations about our history and culture. Learn more at www.mshumanities.org

About the Oregon Humanities’ “This Land” program:

According to its nominating statement and website, “This Land,” by Oregon Humanities, is an online multimedia project launched by a grant from the Creative Heights Initiative of the Oregon Community Foundation to collect and connect stories about land, home, belonging, and identity by Oregon’s communities of color. Using film, stories, maps, photos, sounds, and graphics by artists and writers of color, the online platform builds a broader understanding of how policies and laws, such as wildfire policies and tribal land to alien land laws, have shaped systems of power and land ownership in Oregon’s past and present.  The project was launched in February 2017 and continues to draw thousands of people to its website, videos, and related in-person events. The Oregon Cultural Trust has also supported this project. View the nominating statement.

Judges were impressed by the program’s use of new technologies to draw out and share the stories, including the website that was praised as “enhancing the identity of the council” and allowing for an exploration “of the humanities in a new, dynamic way that will reach new audiences… a model for other councils to emulate.” Other judges applauded the “creative aspects of the project” and its “efforts to elevate the voices of artists of color,” as well as the project’s ability to expand from an online multimedia project to one that brought “people together to view films and have discussions so that the work promotes face-to-face exchanges and much-needed dialogues.”

About Oregon Humanities

Oregon Humanities connects Oregonians to ideas and brings people together across differences through public conversations, programs, grants, and online resources to explore the thoughts, perspectives, and experiences of Oregonians, especially those who have been ignored, generalized, or oppressed. Learn more at www.oregonhumanities.org

About the Schwartz Prize and Judges:

Each year the Federation of State Humanities Councils awards the Schwartz Prize to up to three councils for outstanding work in the public humanities. The prize is funded through an endowment from 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 previous winning projects.

For more information about the Schwartz Prize, please visit: www.statehumanities.org/about-us/schwartz-prize

The Federation of State Humanities Councils:

The Federation of State Humanities Councils (FSHC) was founded in 1977 as the membership association of state and territorial councils. FSHC 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, please visit: www.statehumanities.org.

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 state and private funding. For more information about the state humanities councils, please visit: www.statehumanities.org/the-state-humanities-councils/


# # #