Dear Friends,

On January 6, as Congress met to certify the 2020 presidential election results in Washington, DC, violent rioters broke into and rampaged through the Capitol. Five people died, hundreds were afraid for their safety, and millions were deeply shaken. We watched democracy pushed to the precipice, and we continue to learn more daily about the insurrection and its roots. At the same time, the United States is reckoning with the inequities and tragedies resulting from a global pandemic and working to confront the reality and impact of systemic racism. 

The bipartisan legislation establishing the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1965 asserted, “Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens.” This demand is urgent today, and it continues to propel the mission of the Humanities Council. The Council’s Why It Matters civic engagement initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Federation of State Humanities Councils, will support projects that address--right now--the need for knowledge, reflection, and dialogue about democratic participation. In this moment, we are committed to creating the conditions for empathy and holding up a mirror to diverse human experiences so that ALL Rhode Islanders can chart new paths forward. 

In this 16th edition of #HumanitiesInContext we share news of the Council’s grants, initiatives, and events as well as curated humanities content that is a springboard for reflection, learning, and action. Read on for stories of impact, humanities in action, and humanities happenings in Rhode Island. We will also be sharing some of our favorite stories and resources on the Council’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @rihumanities. 

As we face this new year, the entire Council Team wishes you health, safety, and time for reflection. 
All my best,
Elizabeth Francis
Executive Director
and the Humanities Council Team
Your support helps ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to and engage with the humanities, now, and in the future. Visit or if you’d like to learn more contact Rachael Jeffers at
Stories of Impact:

This feature from the Providence Journal focuses on how the Little Compton Historical Society has adapted during the pandemic and continued serving their community in meaningful and engaging ways. In an interview with executive director Marjory O’Toole, the Little Compton Women’s History Project figures prominently in their story of resilience. Read more here

The Little Compton Women’s History Project was supported by a 2020 major grant from the Humanities Council and was part of the ongoing XIX: Shall Not Be Denied initiative.
Humanities in Action: a curated list of humanities resources for reflection, learning, and action.
To Read:

This profile shows how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted Rhode Island’s smallest, majority minority city by focusing on the experiences of one family. Through their story, readers are able to see how policies impact people and communities in deeply personal ways and what responsibility we hold for the common good. Read more here
Photo illustrated by Dana Smith
To Watch:

“I say about myself all the time as somebody who has studied race and racism for years … I’m constantly confronted with things that are new to me that are shocking and horrifying, both about our history and about the present moment. And I think that that step of acknowledgement is really important because without it we really can’t go anywhere....”

Watch scholar, poet, visual artist, and comic book author Eve L. Ewing in conversation with Jim Ludes and G. Wayne Miller on Story in the Public Square as they discuss how the humanities and arts can help us acknowledge and address racism and white supremacy now and in the future. Story in the Public Square is a project of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University in Newport.

Ewing is an Assistant Professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and author of “Electric Arches,” which received awards from the Poetry Society of America and the American Library Association and was named one of the year’s best books by NPR and the Chicago Tribune. She is also author of “Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side,” and “1919” and the co-author of “No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks.” Eve L. Ewing, and her mother, award winning former journalist Sylvia Ewing, were honored in 2020 by Illinois Humanities with their Public Humanities Award.
To Listen:

In this virtual panel discussion at the American Historical Association’s November conference, historians Marsha E. Barrett, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jelani Cobb, Columbia University, John A. Lawrence, University of California Washington Center, and Heather Cox Richardson, Boston College, offer historical perspectives on the events, and consequences, of the 2020 election. Listen here
This panel was moderated by James Grossman, American Historical Association and was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Stanton Foundation, and the HISTORY Channel. 
#HumanitiesHappenings: Upcoming Events & Opportunities
Please check out the Council’s calendar for more details. The events we’ve highlighted below are just a few of the many offerings by Council grantees and partners.
January 19: Job Opportunity

Applications due for new part-time, temporary Grantmaking Program Coordinator position.

This 20/hr per week role will run from February - July 2021. Click here for details.

Reading Across Rhode Island, the One Book, One State community read program, kicks off its 19th year with a virtual event 6:30-7:30pm EST. The 2021 selection is Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds. The Kick Off event will include Honorary Chair Val Tutson, multiple award-winning storyteller and executive director of Rhode Island Black Storytellers, along with Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and RARI Education chair Maureen Nagle on an engaging panel moderated by Jim Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University. Reading Across Rhode Island is a program of the Rhode Island Center for the Book, made possible through a vibrant collaboration of librarians, teachers, book group leaders, and readers from across the state. Click here to register for the virtual Kick Off event.

The Humanities Council is a proud sponsor of the 2021 Reading Across Rhode Island season.
January 28: RI Historical Society launches EnCompass!

Join the Rhode Island Historical Society at 4:00 PM to celebrate the release of seven new topical modules for RIHS’ free online textbook of Rhode Island history, EnCompass! Geralyn Ducady, the director of Education and Public Programs at the RIHS’ Newell D. Goff Center, will showcase these new modules and be available for questions on Zoom. Click here to register for this free, public event.

This project was supported by a major grant from the Humanities Council.
XIX: Shall Not Be Denied is a partnership initiative of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and the Rhode Island Department of State. Due to the pandemic, Shall Not Be Denied will continue amplifying Rhode Island centennial events through March 2021 via the website and on Instagram @xixshallnotbedenied.
This list will be added to as the Humanities Council is made aware of resources available to the sector as we weather this storm together. Check back often.