Mississippi Humanities Council Newsletter - June 2017
Carol Andersen
MHC assistant director
Assistant Director's Message
Why We Give Grants
"What exactly do you do at your job, Mom?" My kids have asked me that question dozens of times--for that matter, so has my husband and most of my friends not connected to any humanities or cultural outreach work. Explaining the role of the humanities in our American life is complicated. As director of programs for the Mississippi Humanities Council, I often just resort to saying that I help run a grants program. But the Mississippi Humanities Council grants program is much more than simply giving away money. Yes, our grants provide the cash needed to pay speakers and audio-visual technicians and researchers and facilitators to make those programs happen, and for supplies and equipment and posters and advertising. But our engagement with our grantees goes far deeper than that.

Grants allow our diverse communities and organizations to conceive their own ways of grappling with our state history and exploring our vibrant culture.

Some state councils have moved away from grants as their primary program focus, opting instead to develop and deliver programming directly, and there are remarkable projects happening across the country as a result. In Mississippi, we believe grants continue to serve our state particularly well--Mississippi is a profoundly complex place, stemming from a history that is as complicated as it is creative. Grants allow our diverse communities and organizations to conceive their own ways of grappling with our state history and exploring our vibrant culture.

Unlike other granting organizations, the Mississippi Humanities Council actively participates with applicants throughout the granting process. We counsel applicants on their plans before they apply, helping them identify weaknesses, connecting them with other organizations that may be doing similar work that could strengthen their projects, suggesting humanities scholars to inform their programs and present talks where appropriate. We also help develop evaluation plans and suggest publicity measures that will help them reach as many people in their intended market as possible. The Mississippi Humanities Council considers itself a partner in the programs we give grant support to, not simply a source of money. Throughout the life of each grant, our program staff consults with and assists project directors, and we actively promote their programs and events.

The Mississippi Humanities Council also conducts some of its own programs--we call these council-conducted programs--but grants for grassroots programming remain our focus. Among our core values is this statement: "We collaborate with partners to promote the public humanities and foster lifelong learning in Mississippi." Key words in that statement are "collaborate" and "partners"--the Mississippi Humanities Council chooses to be actively involved, supportive and available to groups wishing to conduct good humanities programming in our state. Giving away money is the easy part; our real focus is meaningful programming using the tools of the humanities fields, and so we continue to make grants our priority but with active participation from Council programming staff.
Dr. Richard Broadhead
President, Duke University
Duke President Makes the Case for Humanities Funding

Earlier this month, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger published an editorial by the president of Duke University, Richard Broadhead, about the importance of the humanities and the NEH to our country and our state. With the National Endowments for the Humanities and Arts under threat of being closed, Dr. Broadhead makes a compelling case for the tremendous value of the tiny public investment we make in these cultural agencies. His piece concludes, "This should not be a political decision: these programs reflect all of America, and they serve all of America, bringing history and arts to local communities everywhere. It is a wise investment to continue the funding that brings the best of our cultural heritage to support veterans, teachers - and all of us."
His entire editorial is worth reading and can be accessed here:

Text Link
MHC Awards $69,700 in Major Grants

At its June 8 board meeting, the Mississippi Humanities Council approved $69,700 in grants to organizations throughout the state for public programming exploring the state's shipbuilding history, Chinese grocery stores in the Delta, the life and work of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, how Clyde Kennard attempted to integrate one of Mississippi's state universities, and more. Funded proposals include seven racial equity projects supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Projects receiving grants include:

Regular Grants
  • 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi (Mississippi Heritage Trust, statewide)
  • Jackson Africana Drum and Dance Symposium (Jackson State University, Jackson)
  • The Last Modern Shipyard: Ingalls West Bank (City of Pascagoula, Pascagoula)
  • Grocery Stor(i)es: Life in Chinese Grocery Stores in the Mississippi Delta (Delta State University, Cleveland)
  • The Legacy of Belonging-Different Not Less (Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, Gulfport)
Racial Equity Grants
  • Telling Our Own Story: Untold Natchez History of African American Women and Girls (Historic Natchez Foundation, Natchez)
  • Fannie Lou Hamer's America (From The Heart Productions, statewide)
  • The Open D.O.O.R.S. Project: Phase Two (Harrisburg Cultural and Social Services Center, Tupelo)
  • L.I.F.E. (Love Is For Everybody) Summit 2017 (FlyZone, Inc., Cleveland)
  • Filmmaking for Freedom (Rosedale Freedom Project, Rosedale)
  • Measure of Progress: The Clyde Kennard Story (University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg)
  • #WAKEUP! Fall Production and "4 M's of the Movement" Tour (Tougaloo College, Tougaloo)
Details about these and other humanities programs around the state will be posted in the Mississippi Humanities Council calendar on our website and our Facebook page

The MHC 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 MHC also offers special grants to support oral history projects around the state and projects that examine the state's racial history and foster discussion about continuing racial disparities.

Regular grant ($2,001-$7,500) deadlines are May 1 and September 15. Minigrants (up to $2,000) have no deadlines, though applications must be received at least eight weeks before the program or proposed grant period begins. Grant application forms and other related documents may be found on the Grants page of the MHC website.
Bicentennial Grants Program Comes to an End

After six months of remarkable demand, the Mississippi bicentennial grants program, funded through Visit Mississippi and administered by the Mississippi Humanities Council, has come to an end, with the last grants awarded in May. In all, these grants supported 88 different projects throughout the state. The good news is that while the grants have come to a close, Mississippi's bicentennial goes on through the end of the year and there are still many events on the calendar! To read about the programs and projects funded in the final grant round, click the text link below. Keep up with ongoing bicentennial events throughout the year, across the state at ms200.org.

MHC Board Travels to Clarksdale for Summer Retreat

Earlier this month, MHC Boardmembers and staff gathered in Clarksdale for the MHC's annual summer board retreat. Here are a few highlights from our trip!

Board members and guests enjoy lunch on MHC Board member Panny Mayfield's front porch.

Photo from the Board's business meeting, hosted by the Delta Blues Museum.
MHC crew tries samples from Clarksdale's own Sweet Magnolia Ice Cream.

Evening entertainment at Ground Zero Blues Club.
"Ideas on Tap: Can Jackson Save Mississippi?" will take place tonight, June 27, at 5:30 at Hal & Mal's in Jackson. The happy hour event will be free and open to the public.

Events Across the State Commemorate Mississippi's 200th Year

Mississippi Visions: Works by Contemporary Mississippi Artists
June 1-30,2017
Oxford, MS
A month-long art exhibit in June highlighting the diverse work of our state's contemporary artists. Will also include a series of free hands-on workshops where the public can learn about the artistic process .

Text Link
Coming Up: Humanities Programs Sponsored by MHC
July 22, 2017 -- 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
United Family Life Center, 1101 Dr. MLK Drive, Cleveland
L.I.F.E. (Love Is For Everybody) Summit 2017
L.I.F.E. (Love Is For Everybody) Summit is a one-day summit for youth and young a
dults ages 13-19 in the Cleveland/Bolivar County area. Its purpose is to provide workshops and activities that seek to encourage them to embrace their heritage, to expound on the positive aspects of their culture, to raise awareness of the vast inequities in their community and to promote community building through racial healing. The youth will be challenged to think broadly and to observe assess issues pertaining to race, culture and equality.