We are pleased to announce the formation of the Federation’s Racial Equity Working Group. Federation Board Member Gloria White Gardner (Maryland) and Maine Humanities Council Executive Director Hayden Anderson will serve as co-chairs. The group’s goals are to examine the Federation’s practices, policies, and programming, with the intention of coordinating institutional resources to help enact and support a race equity culture among our organization’s staff, board, and member councils nationwide.
Throughout this month, the state and jurisdictional humanities councils are collectively running more than 140 programs across the country that touch on important themes affecting communities across the country, including programs on racial equity, suffrage, Indigenous and Native American women, civic engagement, democracy and journalism, and local histories. The programs range from lectures to workshops and from virtual happy hours to book clubs.
As a journalist then and a pastor now, I’ve had to know how to listen. Not to hear, that’s a matter of the senses. Listening is something entirely different. It has very little to do with ears and much more to do with the heart. It’s a soul function. It requires that I create within myself the space to receive another. Their stories, their experiences, their joys, their pains. Listening begins with the decision to value another simply for who they are. The humanities have helped me listen.
Interview with endawnis Spears on Land Acknowledgment, Native Communities and the Role of the Humanities Today
Humanities organizations have extraordinary power in the way that they frame not only our shared and distinct histories in the United States, but also imagining and shaping our collective future, and this includes Indigenous futures. Those of us engaged in humanities work have an opportunity to model what institutional equity looks like by creating long term initiatives that quantify and measure equitable representation within our institutions while also investing in programs that foster career pathways for young Native people, making it explicitly clear that humanities work can be a place of empowerment where they can shape the narratives about their own cultures and communities. Read more from endawnis here.
The humanities have a central role in moving our country and society forward. In addition to promoting and contextualizing art, people that work in the humanities must contextualize what it means to be human in a time and place like this. The humanist’s job is to explain the creative and intellectual intersections of human experience within a historical era.
The 2020 National Humanities Conference, which was going to be held in Indianapolis, IN in November has been canceled due to COVID-19.
Our objective isn’t to assume that we have all the answers; we want to work together with libraries, museums, historical societies, scholars, journalists, activists, and fellow citizens to celebrate fundamental dignity; collectively challenge the structures and issues that stand in the way of equality; and promote a true common good which is consistent with our founding principles.
When I wrote my President’s message on my first day on the job just a little over a month ago, I included one of the Federation’s guiding principles: “The humanities strengthen the civic, cultural, and social fabric of society by fostering understanding and promoting an engaged citizenry.” I reiterate it now as we see our nation urgently needs learning, understanding, and healing. Today we also see the vital importance and evidence of an engaged citizenry across the country.
Here is a small sample of programs offered by the state humanities councils on race, inequality, Black history, interracial communications, and more. These programs use the humanities to provide historical context, share personal experiences, and build understanding to better foster empathy.
“We at the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC), similar to other humanities organizations that comprise the Federation, see ourselves as having three primary roles – convener, connector, and catalyst. All three roles are critically important.” Read more from Kevin Lindsey here.
It’s been exactly two weeks since we welcomed Phoebe Stein as the new Federation President so we wanted to catch her (in between all the Zoom meetings!) to see how she is doing, what it feels like to begin her leadership during a pandemic, her thoughts about the organization and humanities community as a whole, and finally whether she’s a virtual coffee break or happy hour kind of person!
Extend your documentary repertoire with several unique offerings from state humanities councils! Films from a wide range of topics such as Responding to COVID, the Veteran Experience, Women’s History and UNLADYLIKE2020, Virtual Theater, Hoosier Film Festival and more, can be found and viewed by just clicking a button. Let us know your thoughts by tagging us on social @HumFed and using #HumanitiesAtHome.