Humanities Now
February 2020
AZ Humanities Happenings
Black History is American History

Brenda Thomson, Executive Director

Many Voices
Every February I find myself wondering why the cultural and historical contributions of African-Americans are crammed into the shortest month of the year.  It's important to me because when I was growing up the educational, scientific, economic and literary contributions of Black people were sparsely represented, if at all.  When you are a kid and you only see Black nannies and porters on television, it's hard to imagine becoming a lawyer or ballerina, or astronaut. When I went to college I was surprised and delighted to find that the accomplishments and contributions of Blacks to American culture, life and society were immense.  As an undergraduate I got to meet many amazing and talented professionals who came to my campus to share their lives and aspirations with students, Robert Penn Warren, August Wilson, Alice Walker, Ntozake Shange, Maya Angelou, and even Mr. Rogers, to name a few. They were just regular people.  They were good at some things. They made mistakes. Mostly they cared about learning and sharing what they learned. Their stories inspired us to imagine more, question more, do more, think more about the world beyond our front doors.
Listening is Learning
So for me there is no Black History Month. Why? Because Black history is made every day; it is simply American history. This is the beauty of the humanities. The humanities open our eyes to more, the people that shape our notions of freedom, liberty and justice come in all colors. Poetry that makes us laugh, music that make us dance, art that touches our soul, these are all reflections of the richness and diversity of humanity.  If voices are silenced, if stories are left out, the picture of America is incomplete. So if you can,  " Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity." - Roy T. Bennett.

This is how we dream. This is how we change the world.
America Speaks: Hidden Voices, Silent Stories
Wednesday, February 26
Arizona Humanities
1242 N. Central Avenue
6:00 - 8:00 pm

RSVP at 
Join us for the first in a series of programs exploring the diverse voices that capture the journey towards Democracy in America. We are proud to feature these presentations as part of the traveling Smithsonian Exhibit Democracy in America: Voices and Votes that will launch in March 2020. The Voices and Votes exhibit will travel to six Arizona towns, and feature programs across the state.
Our democracy has been shaped by many people. We are most familiar with the famous, the nation's founders and Presidents. But many more individuals have contributed to the depth and breadth of our nation's values of life. liberty and justice. This program explores the contributions from those in the shadows, some faceless and nameless, who built America. Where did they come from? What were their stories? Learn about the Coded Messages of the Underground Railroad, and later The Green Book.  Communication and secrecy were key to the successful operation of the Underground Railroad. Safety was more important than quickness. Both fugitive slaves and members of the Underground Railroad learned to code and decode hidden messages, and to disguise signs to avoid capture. There were code names for routes and code numbers for towns. A quilt hanging on a clothesline with a house and a smoking chimney among its designs indicated a safe house. The song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd" served as directions to Canada. Using storytelling, activities and songs, this presentation will depict the ingenuity and resiliency used by those involved in the Underground Railroad to help over 100,000 slaves escape to freedom between 1810 and 1850.  For many years after the Civil War it was not safe or easy for Blacks to travel in the segregated U.S. Restaurants, hotels, theaters and businesses did not serve Blacks. They developed a network of safe spaces so that they could travel, live and work despite illegal and legally sanctioned discrimination through Jim Crow laws.
Dr. Tamika Sanders is an entrepreneur who decided to become an educator to help address the lack of minority faculty in higher education, and serve as a role model for minority students who rarely see people of color in academia. She hopes to continue using the arts to break barriers, unite people, and create social change.

A Celebration of Black History Month with   Wanuri Kahiu

We are excited to partner with the University of Arizona College of Humanities to present Black History Month 2020 with filmmaker and artist Wanuri Kahiu. 

Wanuri Kahiu is a Kenyan  film director, producer, and author. She has received several film awards and nominations, including honors for From a Whisper (2008) and Rafiki (2018)   Kahiu is part of AFROBUBBLEGUM a collective of African artists whose ambition is to create fun, frivolous and fierce work.  Details at
Lecture with Wanuri Kahiu
Thursday, February 27, 7:00 pm
@ Health Services Innovation Building (HSIB) 
1670 E. Drachman St. Tucson, AZ 85721

Acclaimed artist and filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu shatters convention around African representation-by celebrating art that's made for the joy of it. Born in Nairobi, Kahiu is part of the new generation of African storytellers, screening films around the world and receiving international acclaim. In her vibrant, optimistic lecture, Kahiu explains why showing fun is a political act, when happiness is so often seen as a privilege.

Rafiki Film Screening & Discussion
Friday, February 28, 7:00 PM
@ The Loft Cinema
3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85716
 Tickets $20* 
The second feature film from award-winning Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, Rafiki is a love story about two young women, forced to choose between happiness and safety as they pursue their dreams in a conservative society. Kahiu will speak about her approach to storytelling, which endeavors to show an authentic representation of Africa.  Tickets are available for purchase at The Loft Cinema Box office.
Water/Ways Opens in Lake Havasu City!
February 8
Lake Havasu Museum of History
320 London Bridge Rd. Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403

Water/Ways makes the last stop on its year-and-a-half long journey through Arizona in Lake Havasu City, and there's no place more appropriate to cap the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition's tour. The history of the region is tied closely to its water resources, and water remains essential to the prosperity of the city today.

Lake Havasu City is located in far western Arizona, in Mojave County. Lake Havasu started to fill when Parker Dam was built across the Colorado River in 1938. Years later,  Robert McCulloch, famous for his chainsaw company, thought remote Lake Havasu would be a good place to test outboard motors. He soon realized that vacationers and retirees might be attracted to the area if he developed a resort community there. He was right about the lake's allure, and Lake Havasu City incorporated in 1978. Travel and tourism workers make up the largest category of employees in the city. Visitors spend about $171 million in Lake Havasu City every year.

The Colorado River is a major source of water, not just for the immediate area, but for Southern California and central Arizona as well. The Central Arizona Project (CAP) draws water from the river by way of the lake and transports it to Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties for agricultural and municipal use. 

Long before the Colorado River was dammed, the Chemehuevi people lived along its banks. Their communities lay on a north-south travel and trade route that stretched from Central America to Colorado. The Chemehuevi lost their traditional lands twice: when the U.S. government seized them in 1853, and again in 1935, when the reservation established in 1907 was taken back for the Parker Dam project. After this loss, the Chemehuevi lobbied for federal recognition, which was granted in 1970. The tribe is based on a 32,000-acre reservation that hugs the western shore of the lake, across from Lake Havasu City.

For more information, visit

Water/Ways Events in Lake Havasu City

  • Tuesday,  February 11, 7:00 p.m.  Arizona State University Professor
    Paul Hirt will speak about water and sustainability  at the ASU Lake Havasu City Campus.  Room to be announced.
  • March 16 through 22.  Lake Havasu Museum of Histor y   partners with the water conservation specialists at  Lake Havasu City Water Division . Go on tours of the city's water infrastructure and enjoy family workshops during the March school break.
     Most activities start at 9:00 a.m.-locations and dates to be announced.
  • Local 4th grade students will create artwork for the follow-up exhibition  Havasu Blue and Green Location and dates to be announced.
Upcoming FRANK Talks

FRANK Talks are interactive conversations on ideas that matter. Attendees discuss issues of local and national importance in local libraries at a 75-minute program. FRANK Talks encourage participants to weigh facts, provide the opportunity to put them in context, and consider different points of view. 

Water in Arizona: Sustainability, Supply and Demand

 Yuma - February 12 @ 11:00 am  -  1:00 pm

Free Speech: Can I Tell You How Much I Hate You?

Glendale - February 12 @ 6:30 pm  -  8:00 pm

New programs added regularly. Check out our  online calendar  to stay updated!
More Cultural Programs From Our Friends and Affiliates
Black Women Walking
February 8, 7:30 - 9:00 pm
New School for the Arts & Academics
1216 East Apache Boulevard
Tempe, AZ 85281 

CLICK HERE for ticket information

Imagine the souls of black folks coming alive on stage through the voices and words of black women in America!
Storytelling rituals, gospel music, multimedia and contemporary dance bring to life the stories of courageous black heroines who changed the course of American history.
Written by Karen F. Williams, adapted and directed by Kevvin Taylor,BLACK WOMEN WALKING (Winner "Best Play" 2018 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival) brings together an ensemble of lived experiences and perspectives that elicit from audiences laughter, crying and shouting as it reveals of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marian Anderson, Wilma Rudolph, Bessie Coleman, Willie Mae Ford Smith, Fannie Lou Hamer and others.
Celebrating their 13th season, this award-winning original play is packed with emotional power, cultural rituals, and shows any audience that the power of black women can only fully be realized and acknowledged in the present by looking back and embracing and celebrating the past.

ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination presents The Future Ain't Gonna Write Itself
Februay 11, 2:00 - 3:30pm
Ross-Blakely Hall 196
1102 S McAllister Ave, Tempe, AZ, 85281

Black speculative fiction can trace its roots to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, but it's currently experiencing a big resurgence thanks to the twin successes of the movies "Black Panther" and "Get Out."
The genre encompasses elements of fantasy, science fiction, horror and magical realism and often references black history and culture.
But a lack of awareness and promotion by mainstream media means it can be daunting for a new reader to know what the genre is or decide where to start. That's why Arizona State University's Center for Science and the Imagination is welcoming author, editor and FIYAH literary magazine co-founder Troy L. Wiggins to ASU's Tempe campus.
At this special event, co-presented with School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Wiggins will present a public lecture on the power and potential of black speculative fiction and the popularity of the genre since the release of the two films,
Book Discussion: Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean
- by Edward Kritzler
February 13, 7:00 pm
122 E Culver St Phoenix, AZ 85004

Please RSVP to or call 602-241-7870.  
In this lively work of history, Edward Kritzler tells the tale of an unlikely group of swashbuckling Jews who ransacked the high seas in the aftermath of the Spanish Inquisition. At the end of the fifteenth century, many Jews had to flee Spain and Portugal. The most adventurous among them took to the seas as freewheeling outlaws. In ships bearing names such as the Prophet Samuel, Queen Esther, and Shield of Abraham, they attacked and plundered the Spanish fleet while forming alliances with other European powers to ensure the safety of Jews living in hiding. Filled with high-sea adventures, including encounters with Captain Morgan and other legendary pirates,  Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean reveals a hidden chapter in Jewish history as well as the cruelty, terror, and greed that flourished during the Age of Discovery.
Professor Stan Mirvis of Arizona State University will lead a critical discussion of the book, highlighting the amazing history of Jewish life in  the Caribbean as well as some of the popular misconceptions about the subject.

Please note the author will not be present at this discussion.  

Soul of the Great Migration: A Celebration of Black Music
Heritage Square
113 N 6th St. Phoenix, AZ 85004
February 14, 9:00 am - 6:30 pm

You're invited to Heritage Square to celebrate Black History Month in style, with African American songs, rhythms, and traditions that have influenced music worldwide. Featuring African drummers, gospel singers, traditional Cuban music, fantastic local DJs, and Arizona's King of the Blues, Big Pete Pearson with the True Flavor Blues Band.
Soul of the Great Migration is free and open to the public. Chicken & Waffles for the People's food truck will be here for the event!

The day's line up:
Organized by Clottee Hammons in conjunction with the exhibit  The Great Migration: Indiscernibles In Arizona  now on view at Heritage Square.
Grand Opening! Arizona Questers Women's Suffrage Centennial Exhibition
February 14, 2020  2:00 pm
Arizona Capitol Museum
1700 W. Washington,  Phoenix, AZ 85007

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs cordially invites you to a Ribbon-cutting Ceremony  for the Arizona Questers Women's Suffrage Centennial Exhibit. 
The exhibit was developed with input from women's history scholars, museum professionals, designers and volunteers. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the Arizona Capitol Museum's "Share Your Vote" timeline by placing a sticker near the year when they first voted or plan to vote. Stickers will be available at the information desk. RSVP to Questers State President, Betty Hartnett

  • 1:30 pm - Museum Tours
  • 3:00 pm - Dr. Mary Melcher presents Frances Munds: An Exceptional Arizona Leader.

Facebook: Questers Women's Suffrage Centennial Project

Geologies of Race
February 27, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
University Club, Heritage Room
425 E University Dr
Tempe, AZ 85281 
How does geology connect with race?
Discover the connection between the human impact on geology and the inhuman outcomes of colonialism at this public lecture.
A major university and community event, the annual Distinguished Lecturer program brings to campus a prominent humanities scholar whose work highlights the importance of humanities research. While on campus, speakers discuss humanities trends and participate in informal sessions, allowing ASU colleagues and students to share related research interests. 

Lecture: Our History is the Future

February 28, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
NAU Native American Cultural Center

For information, contact Dr. Timothy Yamamura 

Join us as we delve into the latest chapter in the centuries-long struggle for Indigenous liberation. In this lecture, Nick Estes will discuss his latest work Our History is the Future.
In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenous protest movement in the twenty-first century. Water Protectors knew this battle for native sovereignty had already been fought many times before, and that, even after the encampment was gone, their anticolonial struggle would continue. In  Our History Is the Future , Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance that led to the #NoDAPL movement.  Our History Is the Future  is at once a work of history, a manifesto, and an intergenerational story of resistance. 

Dr. Nick Estes is an enrolled member of the Lower Brulé Sioux, an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico, and a co-founder of The Red Nation. Estes is the author of Our History is the Future: #NoDAPL, Standing Rock, and the Long Traditions of Indigenous Resistance (Verso, 2019), which places into historical context the indigenous-led movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Western Writers of America's Western Book Display Contest

Use your marketing skills to win $500 and an invitation to the announcement ceremony at the Western Writers of America convention in Rapid City, South Dakota in June 2020!  The contest is open to independent bookstores, museum gift shops, and libraries across the United States. 
How to enter:   Between April 4, 2020 and May 1, 2020, create a display featuring books about the western frontier and the authors, poets, screenwriters, and musicians who write about the American West.  
Deadline:   The contest deadline is June 5, 2020. Detail at  at
Grants and Deadlines
Applications Open! 2020 Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives Awards

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has recently opened the application for its 2020 Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards. The national competition, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, supports digitizing collections of rare and unique content in collecting institutions.
Grants of between $50,000 and $250,000 for a single-institution project, or between $50,000 and $500,000 for a collaborative project, may be sought for projects beginning between January 1 and June 1, 2021.
The application process has two phases. The initial proposal round is open, and proposals are due by 11:59 pm Eastern time on March 31, 2020. The final proposal round is by invitation. Only those applicants whose initial proposals have been approved by the program's independent review panel will be able to submit a final proposal. Information for applicants, including a link to the online application form, is available at
We will be holding three webinars for prospective applicants:
  • Applicant Informational Webinar: Tuesday, January 28, 2:00 pm Eastern - recording now posted online
  • Q&A session: Thursday, February 13, 3:00 pm Eastern
  • Q&A session: February 26, 3:00 pm Eastern
Registration is required in advance for all three events. All webinars are recorded and shared online to the program's Applicant Resources page. 
Also feel free to email us with questions at any time:

NEH Announces $30.9 Million for 188 Humanities Projects Nationwide

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $30.9 million in grants to support 188 humanities projects in 45 states and the District of Columbia. NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede announced the latest grants January 14 at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"These new NEH grants will expand access to the country's wealth of historical, literary, and artistic resources by helping archivists and curators care for important heritage collections, and using new media to inspire examination of significant texts and ideas," said Chairman Peede. "In keeping with NEH's A More Perfect Union initiative, these projects will open pathways for students to engage meaningfully with the humanities and focus public attention on the history, culture, and political thought of the United States' first 250 years as a nation."  
Of these funds, $259,709 was awarded to three Arizona grantees, including $99,710 to DinĂ© College for the development of Contemporary Navajo Art and Artists, a three-year project devoted to the study and documentation of Navajo art and artists. Linda Green of the University of Arizona received $60,000 for research and writing leading to a book on the unintended social and cultural consequences of a successful health initiative combating 20th-century tuberculosis outbreaks among indigenous peoples of Alaska. The University of Arizona received $99,999 for a three-year curriculum development program to infuse foreign language and culture content into courses in business, healthcare, and other professional programs.
Upcoming NEH Grant Deadlines
Summer Seminars and Institutes for K-12 Educators 

Applications Due March 3, 2020

Summer Seminars and Institutes for K-12 Educators provide school teachers across the nation the opportunity to broaden and deepen their engagement with the humanities. One- to four-week residential programs, led by scholars and K-12 professionals, allow participants to study a variety of humanities topics. Seminars and Institutes emphasize the intellectual quality of humanities education and address recent developments in scholarship, teaching, and/or curriculum.
2020 Census Jobs

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting to fill hundreds of thousands of temporary positions across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count.  Here is your opportunity to help your community and get paid for your work

Earn Extra Income
Work Flexible Hours
Pay $17.50-$21.50

Clerical*Supervisory*Census Takers 

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*Arizona Humanities Board Member
About Arizona Humanities
Arizona Humanities is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the Arizona affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 1973, Arizona Humanities has supported public programs that promote the understanding of the human experience with cultural, educational, and nonprofit organizations across Arizona.

Arizona Humanities builds a just and civil society by creating opportunities to explore our shared human experiences through discussion, learning and reflection.
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