Mississippi Humanities Council Newsletter - January 2018
Tim Lampkin, Outreach Coordinator, Racial Equity Grants Program
Working on the Racial Divide

It has been more than 12 years since Stephen Covey coined the phrase "change happens at the speed of trust." These words have been the foundation of my work for years and have helped me understand how communities can work through difficult times. Trust allows people to see each other as human beings first. The lingering impacts of distrust in the form of racial tensions has divided people from all walks of life. The humanities are deeply rooted in the idea that we all share a common humanity and thus can help us bridge the divides between people.

With this idea in mind, the Mississippi Humanities Council launched our racial equity grants program in April 2016 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to address civil rights, implicit bias, preconceived notions, and systemic issues hindering communities across our state. Since then, the program has funded 40 projects totaling more than $140,000 in grants to support local humanities-based public programming.

Delta State University is using one of our racial equity grants to add a high school leadership forum to its annual Winning the Race Conference in March. High school students will work together prior to the conference to develop a social media campaign addressing issues related to racial equity, targeted at youths. The aim of these pre-conference conversations is to engage area youths more deeply in the conference and the local dialogue on race. The University of Southern Mississippi's Freedom50 Research Group used a racial equity grant to present critical perspectives on racial progress at their university through the lens of the Clyde Kennard case, whose failed attempts to enroll at the all-white institution in the 1950s were a crucial forerunner of desegregation of the school. In Indianola, the Mississippi Center for Justice received a racial equity grant to train 20 young black men in storytelling, public speaking and oral history methodologies to empower them to reframe the narrative of young black lives from one of negativity to a more honest portrayal of the hopes, dreams, visions and brilliance these young people possess.

This work has been challenging for some of our grantees who seek to discuss race-related topics in their communities. We realize some communities have not engaged in honest dialogue about the divides and disparities. However, we remain optimistic because of the lasting impact this work will have on our state. 

These stories and others are highlighted in a new short film we produced, Legacy of Race, available here on YouTube.

This work has been challenging for some of our grantees who seek to discuss race-related topics in their communities. We realize some communities have not engaged in honest dialogue about the divides and disparities. However, we remain optimistic because of the lasting impact this work will have on our state. Organizations are proactively seeking grant support from us to implement racial equity projects. This is very encouraging and has helped create a new narrative about Mississippi. We are grateful for the opportunity to help communities heal and take steps toward change.

We hope to be able to continue this important program into the future. Learn more about the Mississippi Humanities Council's racial equity program here.
Join Us at the 2018 Public Humanities Awards

The Mississippi Humanities Council will be holding its annual Public Humanities Awards February 16 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. A reception begins at 5:45 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. The awards recognize outstanding work by Missis sippians in bringing the insights of the humanities to public audiences. This year's award recipients include:
Cora Norman Award:  Dr. Leslie-Burl McLemore
Dr. Leslie-Burl McLemore, recipient of the 2018 Cora Norman Award.
Former board chair, Mississippi Humanities Council
Lake Cormorant, MS
Preserver of Mississippi Culture: Visit Mississippi
Creator of Bicentennial Grant program
Jackson, MS
Humanities Partner Award: Rethink Mississippi
Essential partner in MHC's Ideas on Tap program
Jackson, MS
Humanities Scholar Award: Mark Galen LaFrancis
Independent scholar documenting the experiences of military veterans and the civil rights movement
Natchez, MS
Humanities Educator Award: Prison-to-College Pipeline
Program offering humanities courses in state prisons
Oxford and Clinton, MS

Twenty-nine recipients of the 2017 Humanities Teacher Awards, which pay tribute to outstanding faculty in traditional humanities fields, will also be honored at the event.

"This year's winners reflect the power of the humanities to understand who we are as Mississippians and human beings," said Dr. Stuart Rockoff, executive director of the Council. "Together, they have empowered our citizens to share their unique stories, fostered civil discussion about the challenges we still face, and helped bring the humanities to underserved communities. Each winner is a wonderful example of our belief that the humanities are for everyone."

MHC Vice Chair Dr. Wilma Clopton presents the Humanities Scholar Award to Dr. Jodi Skipper at the 2017 Public Humanities Awards Ceremony.
The Council invites all Mississippians to join us at our 2018 Public Humanities Awards ceremony and reception February 16 at 5:45 p.m. at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.
Tickets for the awards ceremony and reception are $50 each and may be purchased by sending a check to the Mississippi Humanities Council, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Room 317, Jackson, MS 39211 or online. Sponsorships are also available. Information about the awards and the reception is available at www.mshumanities.org or 601-432-6752.
MHC to Explore Journalism & Democracy through
Mellon-Funded Special Initiative

The Mississippi Humanities Council is pleased to announce a special initiative for 2018 that will support programs exploring journalism's crucial role in our democracy. This is part of a national initiative entitled "Democracy and the Informed Citizen," administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The initiative seeks to deepen the public's knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.

The MHC will use these special funds to support an array of public programs and lectures throughout the year. Working with other state cultural agencies, including the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Mississippi Library Commission, and Mississippi Public Broadcasting, these programs will reach broad audiences across the state.

"Journalism is essential in producing informed, engaged citizens, and is a crucial check against corruption and bad governance," said MHC Executive Director Stuart Rockoff. "We couldn't be more excited to partner with the Mellon Foundation and the Federation of State Humanities Councils to further the public's understanding and appreciation for the central role good journalism plays in ensuring the health of our democracy."

MHC-sponsored programs under this initiative will include journalism-themed "Mississippi Moments" radio broadcasts and "Ideas on Tap" panels; a special lecture about crusading journalist Ida B. Wells; public library programs about how to assess the reliability of online news sources; the summer Youth Media Project, which trains high school students in community journalism; and a day-long summit featuring panels and speakers about journalism today. Stay tuned for more details about these exciting events.
New Short Film Highlights MHC's Racial Equity Work

The Mississippi Humanities Council announces its Legacy of Race film highlighting communities across Mississippi addressing racism and taking steps towards change. The film highlights four grantees supported through the racial equity fund. Learn about the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University, Winning the Race Conference at Delta State University, Clyde Kennard Lecture Series in Hattiesburg, and the R.O.O.T.S. of Sunflower County. The Council's racial equity program has funded more than 40 projects since 2016 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This film shows how the Council's work reaches all across the state of Mississippi and our commitment to fostering change. Watch the video here.
Ideas on Tap Gears Up for Spring Series

The Mississippi Humanities Council will begin a new spring series of its popular Ideas on Tap happy hour program Tuesday, January 23. The series, "Emerging Mississippi," will discuss industries and fields in which young Mississippians are working to reverse the brain drain.

The program will focus on young people involved in politics and policy in Mississippi. Panelists include Jackson City Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. and Mississippi State Representative Roun McNeal, who will both discuss their paths to elected office, the opportunities and roadblocks of public service in Mississippi, and how we can get more young Mississippians involved in the political process. Rethink Mississippi editor Jake McGraw will moderate the conversation.

The 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. Future programs include media, business/industry, and arts and culture.

The January 23 program will take place at Hal & Mal's in Jackson from 5:30 to 7 p.m.. Entry is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook.

January 23, 2018 -- 5:30-7:00 p.m. -- Hal & Mal's, 200 Commerce Street, Jackson

"Emerging Mississippi" in Politics and Policy

Panelists include Rep. Roun McNeal and Jackson City Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. Rethink's Jake McGraw will moderate. 

As always, compelling conversation is on us, and drinks are on you.

Family Reading Program Prepares for Busy Spring Season

The Mississippi Humanities Council's Family Reading Program is off to a strong start in 2018, visiting three communities this spring and in the planning stage for several more this summer and fall. The spring programs will take place in New Augusta and at Commonwealth Village
and Lincoln Gardens, both Springboard to Opportunities communities in Jackson.
All of the prog rams are part of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities' Prime Time Family Reading program and are conducted in Mississippi through the MHC. In 
preparation for the upcoming Prime Time programs in Mississippi, MHC program officer Caroline Gillespie traveled to New Orleans in mid-January for a national meeting of Prime Time affiliate states to discuss plans for the upcoming year.

In addition to MHC financial support, these programs have also received funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson.
The MHC's Family Reading Program includes English-based Prime Time programs and Spanish-English LuciƩrnagas programs. The six- and seven-week programs are free to host and are geared towards 6- to 10-year-olds and their families. To learn more about our Family Reading Program, contact Caroline Gillespie at cgillespie@mhc.state.ms.us.
Chairman Peede visits Hinds Community College-Utica Campus, which received an NEH grant last year to help document and interpret the life and career of William Holtzclaw, founder of the Utica Normal Institute.
NEH Leader Jon Parrish Peede Comes Home to Mississippi
Back in December, the Mississippi Humanities Council was honored to host Jon Parrish Peede, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in Jackson.  A native of Brandon, Mississippi, Peede's visit was a homecoming of sorts. Despite several inches of snow, Chairman Peede was able to visit several places that have benefited from NEH grants.

Chairman Peede speaking at the Eudora Welty House Welcome Center in Jackson. The Welty House received an NEH grant to help transform the author's longtime home into a museum.
Chairman Peede doing a live remote on Supertalk radio outside of the Two Mississippi Museums, which received an NEH grant last year.
Coming Up: Humanities Programs & Events Around the State

In CIRCLES, a Hurricane Katrina survivor who works to keep black teenagers in school finds his personal and professional lives colliding when his son goes to jail for a crime he didn't commit. 
Oxford Film Festival Screening and Discussion on Restorative Justice

February 9-10, 2018
Oxford, MS

Partnership with the William Winter Institute to observe Black History Month with a 
screening of  CIRCLES, a film about the Restorative Justice movement, which works to combat racial discrimination in schools by addressing trauma that often leads to misbehavior and delinquency.

Bringing Forward the Past: Art, Identity, and the American South
February 16-18, 2018
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS

A day-and-a-half long interdisciplinary symposium that will convene artists, curators, scholars, and the public to explore issues related to identity, race, indigeneity, trauma, and memory. Occurring February 16-18, Bringing Forward the Past  will intersect several concurrent projects and its local community, with deep ties to national conversations about these issues. Speakers include historians Dr. Sarah Lewis and Dr. Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw. Updated speakers and panelists to come.

29th Annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration: 
Southern Gothic
February 22-24, 2018
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS

Annual literary and cinema festival. The 2018 festival will focus on "Souther n Gothic" elements in scholarly literature, popular fiction, biograp hy and history.

"Back in the Day" Black History Celebration
February 28, 2018 -- 6:00-9:00 p.m.
New Hope Baptist Church, Jackson, MS

Annual ecumenical Black History Celebration. The 2018 celebration features Greenwood native, Dr. Tonea Stewart, actress and dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Alabama State University. Stewart will talk about the importance, as a black actress, of choosing her roles carefully to provide positive representations of African American characters on film and on stage.