Mississippi Humanities Council Newsletter - February 2018
Stuart Rockoff
MHC executive director
Director's Message
Mississippi's Hunger for the Humanities

This message is adapted from Dr. Rockoff's remarks at the 2018 Awards Gala.
Some time ago, I was asked to participate on a panel about the "crisis" in the humanities. The crisis was defined as the declining number of humanities majors at colleges, the shrinking budgets of humanities programs and departments, and the growing belief that our children must study subjects that are explicitly tied to specific careers. But after hearing humanities scholars and administrators lament the crisis in the humanities, I was struck by how much the humanities are flourishing in the public work we do. I think about the Mississippi Book Festival, which has drawn thousands of people to the state capitol complex, in the brutal heat of August, to hear authors, historians, and poets talk about their work. I think about the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, which has been going strong for 29 years, and the Oxford Conference for the Book, which has been around for about as long. We are very proud that we gave our largest grant in our last round to help launch the Literary Arts in the Delta Festival, which will debut on March 10th in Greenville.
And what about the incredible response to the 2 Mississippi Museums! 90,000 visitors in the first three months alone, and more families and school field trips coming every day. Clearly, there is a hunger for a compelling and accurate account of our state's past. These are all examples of the intense public interest in the rich history and culture of our state.

The Mississippi Humanities Council was founded in 1972 to foster this passion, to help the people of our state come to terms with our difficult past, to understand the connections between their lives and the larger world, and to tell their own stories.

The Mississippi Humanities Council was founded in 1972 to foster this passion, to help the people of our state come to terms with our difficult past, to understand the connections between their lives and the larger world, and to tell their own stories. This past year has been a busy one. In 2017, we supported public programs in 84 different Mississippi cities and towns. We partnered with over 200 different organizations and institutions across the state. We offered specialized grant programs to celebrate the Mississippi Bicentennial, funded by Visit Mississippi, and to address the history of racism in our state, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. All the while, continuing our regular grant program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
We are very excited about some new initiatives for 2018. With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through a grant to our National Federation of State Humanities Councils, we will be sponsoring a series of programs dealing with the importance of journalism to our democracy. In May, we will open our newest traveling Smithsonian exhibit, "Waterways" which will travel to six sites around the state. With support from the Kettering Foundation, we will be launching a new series of community dialogue programs designed to learn more about how we can bridge the divides that still dominate our country and our state. And, I can finally announce, that in partnership with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, we will be launching the digital Mississippi Encyclopedia later this spring. The content of the recently published Mississippi Encyclopedia, newly updated, will be made available online, and will now be accessible to anyone in Mississippi and the world with an internet connection.
Through our numerous programs and grants, we will continue to feed our state's intense hunger for the humanities. We are so grateful for Congress, who continues to fund the National Endowment for the Humanities and the work of the state councils. But most of all, we are appreciative of your support, friendship, and partnership. We are your humanities council, and our work would not be possible without you.
Ida B. Wells Biographer
to Speak as Part of Journalism Initiative

Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and went on to become a crusading journalist and one of the highest-profile voices for civil rights in the early 20th century. On Tuesday, February 27, biographer Dr. Paula J. Giddings will present "Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching" at the Old Capitol Museum. This event, presented in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, is the first in a series of MHC-supported programs in its "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" initiative.

Wells was a newspaper editor when she began a public campaign against inequitable school funding, lynching, and segregation, and supporting economic boycotts and women's rights. She eventually moved to New York City and then Chicago, where she continued to write exposes of lynchings in the South. In 1909, Wells helped form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Dr. Paula J. Giddings is the author of Ida: A Sword among Lions, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography and the John Hope Franklin Research Center Book Award presented by the Duke University Libraries. The historian David Levering Lewis has written, "Paula Giddings's monumental achievement restores this extraordinary contrarian to her place as one of the grand pace-setters of American social justice and female empowerment."

Giddings is a Professor Emerita of Africana Studies at Smith College. Giddings is also a former book editor and journalist who has written extensively on international and national issues and for numerous publications.

A reception and book signing will begin at 5 p.m. in the Old Capitol rotunda, and the program will be in the historic House of Representatives Chamber at 6 p.m. This program is free and open to the public.

The "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" Initiative is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through a grant to the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

Learn more
Washington County Library System  Launches Inaugural Literary Arts In The Delta Festival

The Mississippi Humanities Council is proud to be a part of the inaugural Literary Arts in the Delta Festival March 10 in Greenville. The festival will have more than 30 literary artists, including ReShonda Tate Billingsley and the legendary songwriter, documentary producer, former owner of Memphis-based Stax Records and former president of Motown Records Group, Al Bell.

Billingsley has written more than 45 books for youths. She is an actress, TV producer and national poetry champion. As such, she will be a part of a session critiquing and judging a Mississippi Delta Region Young Authors Competition. Bell, an Arkansas Delta native, is a Lifetime Grammy Award recipient and will present a lecture on his work in entertainment and the music industry. The film, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, will also be presented throughout the Festival, as well as art by ArtsPlace Mississippi. Still I Rise is directed by Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack and chronicles the life of poet laureate and literary scholar Dr. Maya Angelou.

Kay Clanton, Washington County Library System director, says this festival is not only a first for the region, but it fulfills an unmet need. Greenville boasts "more published writers per capita," says Clanton, than any other town in the nation. "Shelby Foote, Hodding Carter III, Ben Wasson, William Alexander Percy, Ellen Douglas, Beverly Lowry, Bern Keating, William Faulkner, Angela Jackson, Steve Azar, Julia Reed and many more birthed great literature from our region. Yet our region has never had a festival to engage and immerse in the literary arts until now," Clanton notes. The festival will kick off at 9 a.m. on Main Street in Greenville.

The state's best and brightest humanities teachers, scholars and agencies were celebrated with a gala and awards ceremony last week in the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. The Mississippi Humanities Council's annual Public Humanities Awards went this year to Dr. Leslie-Burl McLemore (Cora Norman Award), Visit Mississippi (Preserver of Mississippi Culture), Rethink Mississippi (Humanities Partner Award), Mark LaFrancis (Humanities Scholar Award) and the Prison-to-College Pipeline (Humanities Educator Award). The 2017 Humanities Teacher Award winners from each of the state's colleges and universities were also recognized.
Dr. Rhea C. Williams-Bishop
MHC Hosts Racial Equity Convening April 6

The Mississippi Humanities Council is excited to announce a 2018 MHC Racial Equity Convening scheduled for April 6 at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This event will bring together more than 40 grantees from across the state to connect and learn best practices to improve racial equity in Mississippi. Participants will also share how their project has enhanced their community. Dr. Rhea C. Williams-Bishop, W.K. Kellogg Foundation's (WKKF) director of Mississippi and New Orleans Programs will be the keynote speaker. She will discuss the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) initiative, which is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Pamela Junior, director of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, will also provide a tour of the museum. For questions or information about attending the convening, please email Tim Lampkin at tlampkin@mhc.state.ms.us.
Ideas on Tap Continues Spring Series

On February 20, the MHC hosted the second of its "Emerging Mississippi" Ideas on Tap spring series, which focuses on industries and fields in which young Mississippians are working to reverse the brain drain.

The February program addressed young Mississippians involved in corporate and entrepreneurial business around the state. Panelists included Candie Simmons of Regions, Lauren Rhoades of Sweet and Sauer, Tim Lampkin of Higher Purpose Co., and Mary Claire Parrish of C-Spire. Kim Burke, Dean of the Else School of Business at Millsaps College, moderated the conversation. In addition to speaking about the current business climate in Mississippi, the panel also focused on business policies and cultural changes that can encourage young people to stay in or come to Mississippi to pursue their professional goals.

The spring series, co-sponsored by Rethink Mississippi and the Women's Foundation of Mississippi, will take place throughout the spring and focus on different job fields each month. Upcoming programs will be held on March 20 and April 24. Support for the February 20 program also came from America's Future Foundation.

For more information on Ideas on Tap, contact Caroline Gillespie at cgillespie@mhc.state.ms.us.
Next Major Grant Deadline is May 1
The Mississippi Humanities Council grants program supports projects that stimulate meaningful community dialogue, attract diverse audiences, are participatory and engaging, and apply the humanities to our everyday lives. Grants may be used to support public humanities programs, exhibits, the planning of larger projects, and the development of original productions in film, television, radio or online resources
The Council also offers special grants to support oral history projects around the state.
Larger grants ($2,001-$7,500) deadlines are May 1 and September 15. Funded events may not occur fewer than ten weeks from the deadline date, and pre-consultation with MHC staff is required before submitting an application. Grant application forms and other related documents may be found on the Grants page of the MHC website.

Coming Up: Humanities Programs Sponsored by MHC

29th Annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration: Southern Gothic
February 22-24
Natchez Convention Center
Annual literary and cinema festival. The 2018 festival will focus on "Southern  Gothic" elements in scholarly literature, popular fiction, biography and history.

Jackson Africana Drum and Dance Symposium
February 24-25
F.D. Music Hall, Jimmie James Recital Hall and Art Gallery, JSU
This two-day symposium will engage the community and scholars on the performance and preservation of African music and dance expressions in Africa and in the diaspora as well as to see the connection between the "traditions" and the contemporary "remembered" elements in diaspora forms.

T he WPA Slave Narratives: Giving Voice to Freedom
February 26, 6-7:30 p.m.
Library of Hattiesburg, Petal, and Forrest County, 29 Hardy Street, Hattiesburg
Part of Library of Hattiesburg, Petal, and Forrest County's Celebrating African American History & Culture Series.

Angie Thomas: "The Hate U Give" and Young Adult Social Action
March 1, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Jackson State University Student Center Theater
At 10 a.m. Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, will discuss social justice issues presented in her novel. Thomas will also lead a workshop with creative writing students, discussing the process for successful publication. At 11:30 a.m. there will be a reception and book-signing at the COFO Civil Rights Education Center.

Literary Arts in the Delta Festival
March 10, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Main Street, Greenville
The Washington County Library System, in partnership with the Turnrow Book Company, kicks off a new Literary Arts in the Delta Festival. The free all-day Festival will highlight literature, literacy, reading, writing and the world of publishing. Artists will offer insights on their foray into the literary arts, share their published works through discussions, workshops, exhibits, films, television, writing and book signings. A Young Authors Writing Competition will showcase eighth- and ninth-grade students' literary talents and give youths an outlet for creative expression. Food vendors, art and books for all ages also will be available.