Mississippi Humanities Council Newsletter - March 2017
Director's Message
The Humanities and Our Republic

I spent much of last week in Washington, D.C. The first part of the week, the MHC board chair and I met with our congressional delegation, showing the impact of our work on their districts and making the case for the relatively small amount of money we receive each year from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This year, our annual "Humanities on the Hill" trip had special significance, as both the NEH and the National Endowment for the Arts (as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) have been rumored to be "zeroed out" in President Trump's proposed budget. So in addition to talking about the work of the MHC, we had to explain the importance of the endowments, stressing how they benefit small, rural states like Mississippi. Make no mistake, eliminating the NEH is an existential threat to the Mississippi Humanities Council since, in an average year, we receive about 80 percent of our funding from the NEH.

Make no mistake, eliminating the NEH is an existential threat to the Mississippi Humanities Council since, in an average year, we receive about 80 percent of our funding from the NEH.

Despite this threat, after our meetings on Capitol Hill and debriefing with our colleagues from other states, I came away encouraged. Ultimately, Congress decides what government agencies get funded. The NEH and state councils enjoy strong support on both sides of the aisle in Congress. During our meetings, I talked about our programs, highlighting the bicentennial grant program, which is having an impact in every corner of our state, and our Ideas on Tap discussion series, which is creating a unique space for the civil exchange of ideas on some of the most important (and controversial) issues we face in Mississippi. Overall, we were well received in the offices of our senators and congressmen. The bottom line is that they like what we do. Hopefully, they will support its continued funding. Stay tuned for more details on what you can do to show your support for federal humanities funding.

The second part of the week involved an executive director retreat. One of the best parts of the state council world is my colleagues in other states, who are always open to sharing ideas. State councils were established in the 1970s as essentially "pass-through" organizations that distributed federal humanities funding to projects and organizations throughout their states. Over the last few decades, each council has evolved, developing programs of its own that serve the unique needs of their state. In Texas and Alaska, this involves teacher training. In Louisiana, it involves early childhood education. There are 56 different state and territorial councils, each with its own unique focus. So, with the threat of NEH cuts and even elimination, we had a rich discussion about what binds this network of councils together. Is it just that we all receive funding from the NEH or do we all share some common purpose? And what should our role be at a time when the American people seem hopelessly divided?

Humanities councils help bolster our civic life by supporting explorations of our common history and culture and creating forums for the civil exchange of ideas among diverse audiences.

After breaking into small groups, each table came back with essentially the same answer: humanities councils help bolster our civic life by supporting explorations of our common history and culture and creating forums for the civil exchange of ideas among diverse audiences. As a blue ribbon commission put it a few years ago, the humanities are "the keepers of the republic" which relies on an informed and civically engaged citizenry. At a time when many of the bedrock institutions of our society seem to be fraying, the humanities are now more important than ever. Instead of a luxury that we can do without, the humanities are at the heart of understanding who we are as a people and where we should go as a country. At a cost of about 46 cents a person per year, the National Endowment for the Humanities constitutes a vital investment in our country's future.
Next Major MHC 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 MHC 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.

Ideas on Tap Examines
Affordable Housing in Oxford

MHC's Ideas on Tap happy hour program headed to Proud Larry's in Oxford March 2 for a special North Mississippi-based program. Co-sponsored by the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the event attracted a packed house from the Oxford, Lafayette County and university communities.

The panel examined the issue of affordable housing in Oxford with a particular focus on the closure of the Riverside affordable housing community in Oxford and the ways in which the university's population compounds the problems of finding affordable housing in the area. Program panelists included local resident and advocate Doretha Harris; Judy Daniel, Director of Planning for the City of Oxford; James M. Thomas, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Mississippi; and Desiree Hensley, director of the Low Incoming Housing Clinic at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Lafayette County Supervisor Kevin Frye moderated the panel.

This is the second time Ideas on Tap has gone on the road to host programs outside of Jackson. The first program took place last fall in Cleveland, where another Ideas on Tap program will take place later this spring. For more information on Ideas on Tap, contact Caroline Gillespie at  cgillespie@mhc.state.ms.us
Celebrate the Written Word at the Oxford Conference for the Book 
Three-day event set for March 29-31

For those who relish getting lost in a good story, the 24th annual Oxford Conference for the Book is an opportunity to gather with authors, editors and scholars.

On March 29-31, the conference at the University of Mississippi, which is free and open to the public and supported by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, includes readings, panel discussions and lectures by award-winning writers and first-time novelists.

Events will take place across the Ole Miss campus and in Oxford. The conference begins with a welcome luncheon and lecture at 11 a.m. at the J.D. Williams Library, with several o ther panels on March 29 and 30 take place at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, the University Museum and Southside Gallery. The closing day's panels take place in the historic Lafayette County Courthouse.  Conference panels explore a wide range of topics, including nature writing, African-American cookbooks, the life and work of Harry Crews, working with an editor, literature as activism, and the National Book Award. 

This two-week project will allow high school and college educators the opportunity to explore the life and legacy  o f William H. Holtzclaw, the founder of the Utica Normal and Industrial Institute, which later became Utica Junior College and Hinds Community College-Utica, an HBCU community college in rural Mississippi. The workshop will cover the role of the "Little Tuskegees" in the Jim Crow South through seminar discussions on the historical context, African American autobiography, incorporating archival work in your classroom, the role of the Black press, and the Utica Jubilee singers. Participants will create a teaching unit for use in their classrooms and to share with other project participants. This project is funded through a major grant from the National E ndowment for the Humanities.

Participants will receive:
  • $1000 participant stipend
  • A resource kit to take back to your classroom
  • 5 nights room and board at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center, Raymond, MS
  • Three graduate hours from our partner institution, Mississippi College
This program is open to faculty at high schools, community colleges and universities. Ten slots are available. The deadline for applications is April 7 with selected participants notified by April 21. To apply, visit www/holtzclawinstitute.wordpress.com.

Field Notes: Racial Equity Grant Fund

By Timothy Lampkin, Outreach Coordinator
Tougaloo College Encore Theater Ensemble performed an original production entitled #WakeUp on March 9 and 10 at the historic Ballard Hall Theatre. This play was attended by more than 300 people and highlighted the complex issues in the African American community. Dr. Doris Derby was present to give an overview of her journey in Mississippi and how the theatre played a major role during the civil rights movement. Audience members were moved by the production and impressed with the students' commitment to social justice.
The fourth annual Winning the Race Conference will be March 27-28 at Delta State University. We are excited to support this important event in Cleveland. Featured speakers for this year's conference include Dr. Ivory Toldson, president/CEO of the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network, and Dr. William C. Bell, a Delta State University graduate and president/CEO of Casey Family Programs. The conference will offer breakout sessions related to education, social justice and community healing, while providing opportunities for sustained community action, awareness and mobility. Leaders from around the state of Mississippi and nation will guide these sessions. Youth will have several ways to learn about racial equity through the poster competitions for high school and college students and the first High School Leadership Forum.
The Can We Achieve This Togetherness in Our Time?: A Clyde Kennard Lecture Series will kick off next week at the historic Eureka School beginning March 23 from 6-8 p.m. The three-part lecture series is being led by the Freedom50 Research Group at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Sherita Johnson, associate professor of English and director of the university's Center for Black Studies, will present the first lecture in the series, examining Kennard's letters to the university making the argument for racial progress, specifically desegregation .
All of the programs and performances sponsored by MHC are free and open to the public. These projects have been supported by our Racial Equity Fund which was established by a two-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to assist organizations across our state to foster dialogue around race. We would love to partner with you to develop a racial equity program in your community. Please contact me at tlampkin@mhc.state.ms.us to discuss your project and funding opportunities .
Coming Up: Humanities Programs Sponsored by MHC

March 20, 2017 2 p.m.
University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg

Philosophical Fridays: Making Sense of the Christian Fight over LGBT Inclusion
The Department of Philosophy and Religion at USM is continuing its popular "Philosophical Fridays" speakers series with grant support from the Mississippi Humanities Council. The series features respected philosophers giving presentations on a variety of issues. On March 20, David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, will speak about  the theological, biblical and ethical reflections that support his change of mind and heart on accepting LGBT people. 

April 6, 2017 - 7 p.m.
Delta State University, Cleveland

2017 Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture
Dr. Calvin White, Jr., Associated Professor and Chair of the Department of History at 
the University of Arkansas, will deliver a lecture entitled, "Standing at the Vanguard: Oscar StatonDe Priest, A Black Congressmen Amongst White Segregationists."

April 8-9, 2017
Willie Hinton Park, Petal

2017 Petal Southern Miss Powwow
Mississippi has been home to numerous Indian tribes including Choctaws, Chickasaws, Natchez, Creeks, Houmas and others. Mississippi history begins with these tribes. The University of Southern Mississippi will explore this history at its annual powwow in Petal. Powwows are events where Native Americans and others gather, celebrate our cultures and share our cultures with natives and non-natives.

April 19-23, 2017
Holly Springs

Behind the Big House Program & Tour
Behind the Big House: Preserving the Histories and Architecture of Slavery is an educational program initiated by Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc. held in conjunction with the Annual Pilgrimage that explores the area's rare extant inventory of structures related to slavery. Now in its fourth season, the tour has garnered rave reviews for its innovative, inclusive approach to heritage tourism. 

April 20, 2017 - 5:30 p.m.
Gruich Community Center, Biloxi

"Wa de In Witness" Remembrance Program and Roll Call
Fifty-seven years ago, Biloxi's beaches were restricted to white persons only. In 1960, local Afri can  American residents led by physician, Dr. Gilbert Mason Sr., waded into the waters of the Mississ ippi Sound to challenge the beach segregation, triggering a riot by white residents. Federal off icials intervened with litigation that desegregated the beach. To commemorate the participants and educate the public, the Mississippi Center for Justice will host a wade-in ceremony in Biloxi.

Visit Mississippi and Mississippi Humanities Council Award Over $111,000 in Bicentennial Grants in February

To support local celebrations of the Mississippi bicentennial, the Mississippi Humanities Council is partnering with Mississippi Development Authority's Visit Mississippi to oversee a Bicentennial Grants Program. In February, the review committee awarded over $111,000 to 22 different projects from across the state.  These projects include:
Oxford Film Festival
Women of Mississippi on Film
A series of six monthly programs featuring a Mississippi-related film followed by a panel discussion about their depictions of women. April-September.
Calling Panther Heritage Foundation, Hazlehurst
Oral and Written History of Hazlehurst, Mississippi
A collaborative effort to collect oral and written history from local residents, culminating with a published history and a local history lecture series.
USM University Libraries, Hattiesburg                                                                                    
Lectures, Lore and Lessons: Mississippi at the Bicentennial
Series of public programs examining different aspects of the state's past and envisioning its future, including political, literary, cultural history, and industrial history topics. February-November.
Hancock County Community Development Foundation 
The Old Spanish Trail-Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Static and interactive displays of the remaining resources along the Old Spanish Trail in Hancock County.
Sunflower River Blues Association, Clarksdale                                  
The Sunflower River Blues Association's 30th Anniversary
Educational component at an annual blues festival, featuring bluesman Charlie Musselwhite sharing the musical history of the region. August 12.
Waynesboro-Wayne County Library                                                                               
Wayne County Historical Art Mural: Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future
Mural project at new historical museum and art center depicting a historical timeline of the history of the county and the state.
NMHS Unlimited Film Productions, Jackson 
Our Forgotten Roots
Creation of a series of short documentary films highlighting the contributions of African Americans to the state of Mississippi.
Mississippi Lower Delta Partnership, Rolling Fork 
Lower Delta Talk Series
Monthly speaker series featuring eight different programs about aspects of Delta history. March-November.
City of Biloxi
History of Biloxi Video
Development of a short video about Biloxi's history, with emphasis on its cultural heritage, to be showcased at the South Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration and then used at the Biloxi Visitors Center.
Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library, Brookhaven
Mississippi Bicentennial: Literacy in Our Story-Lincoln, Lawrence and Franklin Counties
Portable exhibit featuring the history of Lincoln, Lawrence and Franklin Counties.
Claiborne County Economic Development District, Port Gibson
United States Colored Troops of the Vicksburg Campaign
Living history narrative of the beginning of the Vicksburg Campaign in the Civil War, depicting the role formerly enslaved Mississippians played in the success of the campaign. Project includes printed map featuring General Ulysses S. Grant's campaign trail.
Mississippi Library Commission
Mississippi Literary Map
Creation of a visual map of Mississippi authors, which will be made available in public libraries and at welcome centers. The map will be the subject of public programs at three public libraries at the end of the year.
Union County Historical Society & Heritage Museum, New Albany
Hallelujah Trail and Associated Programming
Creation of permanent signage for churches established 100 years or more ago in Union County which are still active, printed brochure, and public programs on community history.
City of Moss Point
South Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration; The Birthplace of American Music
Two-phase celebration beginning with a booth at South Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration on March 31-April 1 highlighting the past, present and future of Moss Point, followed by a tribute to Mississippi musicians on May 6.
Mississippi State University Libraries, Starkville, North Carrolton
Mississippi Literature and Land Series at Cotesworth Culture and Heritage Center
Series of three public programs examining Mississippi's agrarian and literary heritage to be held at the historic home of J.Z. George. April 9th; September; December.
Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign
Mississippi Bicentennial Symphony at Sunset
Free outdoor pops concert featuring the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra over Memorial Day weekend at Vicksburg National Military Park. May 27th.
Prentiss County Historical and Genealogical Society, Booneville
Booneville Celebrates the Bicentennial
Creation of wood cut-outs of historical personalities from Mississippi and the city of Booneville, which will be displayed throughout Booneville during local a Heritage and Fall Festival Days. Boys and Girls Club members will perform plays about these personalities.
African American Military History Museum, Hattiesburg
1940s Community Day
Day of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the historic USO Club in Hattiesburg, which now houses the African American Military History Museum. March 25.
JSU Center for University-Based Development, Jackson
The COFO Mural and Mt. Olive Cemetery Project: "Celebrating the Legacy of West Jackson's Pioneers
Mural creation, historical reenactments, and printing of a booklet related to civil rights history and the historic Mt. Olive cemetery. 
Historical Society of Gulfport
Historic marker for the location of Centennial Plaza, Gulfport
Creation of eight narrative panels detailing the history of the 1917 centennial celebration site.
City of Raymond
City of Raymond, Mississippi, Bicentennial Celebration
Creation of a short film on the railroad and blues music history of Raymond, Mississippi.
Mississippi University for Women, Columbus
Borderlands: Mississippi and Alabama Statehood in the Bicentennial Year
Public lectures addressing the theme of "borderlands" on the Mississippi-Alabama border around the year 1817. March 5.
The goal of the bicentennial grant program is to inspire and empower local organizations throughout Mississippi to develop public programs documenting, interpreting and exploring community culture. Applications will be accepted on a monthly basis, with grant deadlines falling on the first of each month, continuing through Nov. 1, 2017, or until all grant funds are expended.  For more information, including grant guidelines and how to apply, please visit http://www.mshumanities.org/index.php/grants .
The Bicentennial Year Grant Programis made possible through the Mississippi Legislature in partnership with the Mississippi Development Authority/Visit Mississippi.
Thanks again for making a difference!

Stuart Rockoff, Executive Director
Mississippi Humanities Council | 601.432.6752 | www.mshumanities.org