Around the Nation

A Roundup of Activities Sponsored by the State Humanities Councils

Compiled by Angelica Aboulhosn and Alyson Foster

(March 26, 2024)

Below is a roundup of selected humanities programs and events happening across the country this spring supported by NEH’s partner network of state and jurisdictional humanities councils.

For more up-to-date information on council programs, please refer to humanities councils’ websites.

In California, “Sowing Seeds” explores the lives of Filipino Americans in the Pajaro Valley.  
Photo caption

In California, “Sowing Seeds” explores the lives of Filipino Americans in the Pajaro Valley.  

—Alice Wiggins, The Beginning, c. 1942, Photograph, 3.5" x 5", Collection of Mariano Family 

On April 12, “Sowing Seeds: Filipino American Stories from the Pajaro Valley” opens at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. Also in April, the Merced County Arts Council will host ethnomusicologist and recording artist Julian Saporiti for “No-No Boy,” a multimedia workshop that examines histories of immigration, race, and incarceration across the Asian diaspora.

In Los Angeles, the Muslim Musical Mosaic Project hosts a conversation about American Muslim musical culture on May 2. The event will feature speakers and artists, including Mark Levine, Alfred Madian, Farah Mitha, and Tarzan Ayub, along with live performances and a discussion.

Through May 22, the exhibition “Nathaniel Smith: Mendocino Coast’s First Known African American Resident” will be on display at the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino.

Public performances of plays about those who have experienced homelessness will be held from June 14 to 16 at the San Diego Central Library.

In April, the United Way of Weld County will host free ChildcareRead workshops for early-childhood care providers and educators. Attendees will learn strategies to engage children during story time, obtain guidance on incorporating literacy into other parts of child care, and receive lists of recommended books in English and Spanish and resources for parents.

The 2024 winners of the annual Colorado Book Awards will be announced in Denver on June 21. Now in its 33rd year, the program recognizes the work of the state’s authors, editors, illustrators, and photographers.

Life Among the Grasses” continues this spring at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. This immersive exhibition details the plants and animals that make their homes in nearby coastal habitats and explores ecological and sociological aspects of New England’s salt marshes.

On April 27 in New Haven, the P.L.A.C.E. mobile art studio will screen three student films on diversity, inclusion, and belonging. The festival includes discussions with community members, filmmakers, and scholars.

The American Mural Project presents a public reading in its Winsted gallery by poet Taylor Mali on April 20. A panel discussion and Q&A will follow.

Six episodes of Delaware Humanities’s 2024 podcast, A More Just Delaware, will be rolled out to listeners this spring. The series, produced in partnership with Delaware Public Media, will highlight pivotal moments and legislation in the state’s history through interviews with representatives, activists, and community leaders. 

The council’s Community Conversations program launches in April. The council will also partner with the University of Delaware Library to host three oral history workshops across the state in April and May.

Beginning May 17, Delaware Humanities marks the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education with an exhibition examining Delaware court decisions that became part of the landmark Supreme Court case as well as the challenges, successes, and failures of desegregation in the state’s schools following Brown, and its impact on school systems today. Thirty copies of the exhibition will be on view at libraries, historical societies, museums, and community centers across the state.

HumanitiesDC hosts spring sessions on linguistics and African American literature.
Photo caption

HumanitiesDC hosts spring sessions on linguistics and African American literature.

—Photograph courtesy HumanitiesDC  

District of Columbia
On April 18, the council hosts Decoding DC Language, the latest in its culture series, with linguist Minnie Quartey, who will teach participants how to speak like Washington, D.C., natives. In May, the council’s culture series continues with a talk from guest curator Jermaine Jones, who will examine how African American literature was used to advocate for civil rights. In June, the council hosts an oral history event, inviting participants to record stories about someone in their life.

On April 26, the Coffee County Memory Project presents “Playback & FastFORWARD” at the Martin Centre in Douglas. Celebrating the voices of local oral history contributors who shared their firsthand experiences of school desegregation, the event features dramatic renditions, short documentaries, and a special performance by the Coffee High School Choir.

The Fayette County Peace and Justice Memorial Display Project will be unveiled in April to commemorate African American victims of lynchings in Fayette County. The memorial features jars of soil collected from the locations of these tragedies, alongside photographs of reenactors and locations where lynchings occurred, and QR codes to scan for videos narrating the stories behind each jar.

The Columbus Museum opens its exhibition “Chattahoochee Valley Blues and Folk Musicians” on April 27. The show spotlights local artists like Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and Fletcher Henderson, along with instruments, sheet music, and recordings spanning the blues, folk, R&B, and contemporary genres.

On June 15, the William Root House Museum & Garden in Marietta hosts its annual Juneteenth celebration. Another Juneteenth event is “The Reuben Gay Place: A Georgia Black Farmer’s Legacy of Family, Faith, and Fortitude, 1882–1961,” which traces the story of Gay, a formerly enslaved man who established a significant legacy through his land.

From June 24 to 27, Kennesaw State University Museum of History and Holocaust Education presents the Civil Rights Educator Workshop for 40 instructors.

Atlanta’s Synchronicity Theatre holds a series of community events to coincide with the premiere of The Wash, a play about the 1881 Atlanta Washerwomen Strike. Programs will include a moderated panel discussion on labor and activism and a pop-up exhibition featuring items from the archives of Georgia State University. The Wash opens on June 7 and will run through the end of the month.

On April 20, the Hawaiʻi History Day State Fair will host students from across the islands to share their historical research, including projects in both English and Hawaiian. The event is at Windward Community College in Honolulu.

The Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture, the world’s largest celebration of Indigenous Pacific Islanders, will take place on O‘ahu June 6–16. Representatives from more than two dozen island nations will attend, along with members from the humanities councils in Hawaiʻi, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guåhan, and staff from NEH.

On May 22 in Chicago, Illinois Humanities will celebrate its 2024 Public Humanities Awards that recognize individuals who have made a significant impact on the state through their work and support of the humanities. A live stream of the event will also be available.

Submissions are open through May 3 for the 2024 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards. The awards honor the legacy of the renowned Illinois poet, author, and the first Black Pulitzer Prize winner. The contest is open to all K–12 students.

Indiana Humanities’s award-winning outdoor program Campfires continues this spring with scholar-led readings and discussions that pair nature and literature, on April 20, April 27, May 11, and May 18.

The council hosts a conversation with award-winning author Tiya Miles on April 25. Miles’s book All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake is the adult selection for Indiana Humanities’s 2024 One State / One Story Community Read.

Barns in Monroe County” is on display at the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington through June 29. The exhibition explores traditional barn-building styles and how they have changed over time, assimilating and adapting to the southern Indiana landscape.

Beginning in May, Humanities Iowa will partner with Siouxland Public Media and the Omaha Nation’s Living Language Program to present five sessions featuring storytelling in English and Umoⁿhoⁿ, the native language of Omahan people. The sessions, which are open to the public, will take place once a month and will be recorded for those who are unable to attend.

The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence displays “Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See” through May 19. The traveling exhibition tells the story of Till and his mother, whose brave actions fueled the Civil Rights Movement.

In recognition of the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Humanities Kansas will present two Big Idea online discussions exploring the history and legacy of the case. On April 12, poet Michael Kleber-Diggs presents “Poetry & Brown v. Board.” Photographer Ann Dean explores “The Power of Photography in the Civil Rights Era” on May 10.

“Sorting Out Race” features vintage and contemporary objects found in thrift stores that include depictions of race and ethnicity. The show will be on display at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library through May 19 and will open at the Johnson County Community College CoLab in Overland Park on May 23.

Kentucky Humanities has picked Fenton Johnson’s Scissors, Paper, Rock for its 2024 Kentucky Reads selection. The novel will serve as a focal point throughout the year for communitywide book discussions. 

Each weekday, Kentucky residents can tune in to 88.9 WEKU, 91.3 WKMS, 88.7 WMMT, or 88.9 WKYU to relive a moment in Kentucky’s history with episodes of Think History. The 90-second segments feature stories of colorful characters who have contributed to Kentucky’s unique history and culture. More than 1,000 episodes can also be found on the council’s website.

In New Orleans, from June 24 to 26, the council will host the second annual Institute for Louisiana Culture and History workshop for K–12 social studies educators. Focused on Louisiana’s Reconstruction-era history, the workshop will provide scholar presentations, field trips, and social studies working sessions.

The 8th annual Books Along the Teche Literary Festival comes to downtown New Iberia on April 5. The three-day event features author appearances, workshops, panel discussions, and a keynote speech by Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar. Later that month the city of West Monroe celebrates its 140th anniversary with a history symposium offering recently collected oral histories and in-person interviews.

Beginning April 25 in New Orleans, the “Botanica” exhibition at the Cabildo explores the cultural meaning of Louisiana medicinal plants and how historically based understandings of them are evolving under the threat of climate change and land loss.

The 2024 Maryland History Day will take place on May 4 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Students participating in this annual state contest will conduct historical research and present their findings through various mediums, including documentaries, exhibits, performances, and written papers.

In celebration of #DouglassWeek this April, Mass Humanities will join a group of scholars and project directors to take the Reading Frederick Douglass Together program on a journey to Belfast, Ireland. The trip includes a reading of Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” speech at Belfast’s statue of Frederick Douglass. 

In June, University of Massachusetts Press will publish Clementinos: Voices from the Clemente Writing Project, an anthology of essays and poetry by students from the Clemente Course in the Humanities, the adult education program supported by Mass Humanities in six cities across the commonwealth.

New England Public Media will broadcast Black Life in the Valley, a series of short documentaries based on projects supported by Mass Humanities’s Expand Mass Stories initiative.

In April, Firekeeper’s Daughter author Angeline Boulley will take part in talks and book signings across the state as part of the 2023–24 Great Michigan Read author tour. Events will be held at the Pit & Balcony Theatre in Saginaw (April 13), the Portage Zhang Senior Center in Portage (April 16), the Gogebic Community College’s Lindquist Student and Conference Center in Ironwood (April 25), and the Portage Lake District Library (April 26).

This spring, the Minnesota Humanities Center’s acclaimed “We Are Water MN” exhibition will visit three communities: Duluth (through April 22), Holdingford (April 25–June 17), and North Branch (June 20–August 12). Co-organized by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the exhibition examines water issues in the state and in local communities through personal stories, histories, and scientific information.

May 5 will mark the unveiling of a new Mississippi Freedom Trail marker in Hattiesburg that commemorates residents Dorie and Joyce Ladner. Born and raised in Palmer’s Crossing, the Ladner sisters worked as civil rights advocates on behalf of their community, including organizing protests, registering Black voters, and working to desegregate Mississippi schools. 

In April, the city of Pontotoc will host the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition “Crossroads: Changes in Rural America.” The show offers small towns an opportunity to examine their histories, consider how they have evolved over the past century, and think about what changes the future will bring.

Missouri Humanities’s 2024 Signature Series “Missouri Marvels: Humanities, Discovery, and Innovation” continues this spring with in-person programs and digital content. Events include the 7th annual Springfield Symposium (April 12–13), which will feature sessions showcasing the work of local organizations addressing environmental and wellness issues in the Ozark region, and a Think-N-Drink discussion at St. Joseph’s River Bluff Brewing on June 26.

The council has rolled out seven new Montana Conversations and Speakers in the Schools presentations to promote discussions on historical inequities in the state, combat polarization, increase media literacy, and facilitate dialog about difficult issues. The free programs include a talk on Indigenous boarding schools by Kim Quigley and a presentation on free speech in Montana during World War I by Keith Edgerton. The council is also conducting community conversations and listening sessions with rural and Native American communities to understand how the public humanities can support community needs across the state.

This spring, Humanities Montana is supporting National History Day for the state’s students. On April 6, Montana State University Bozeman will take the lead in facilitating this social studies competition for students in grades 6 to 12 at the university’s campus, where students will address the 2024 theme, “Turning Points in History.”

An exhibition in Nebraska features stories of quiltmakers from around the United States.  
Photo caption

An exhibition in Nebraska features stories of quiltmakers from around the United States.  

—Courtesy of the International Quilt Museum 

Nebraska Warrior Writers workshops for veterans, active-duty military, and their support persons are held on
Saturday mornings in Lincoln through May 11 and in Omaha through June. Participants from across the state may also attend via Zoom.

Through April 20, the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln is exhibiting “A New Deal for Quilts,” which shares stories of how quiltmakers from around the United States coped with the difficulties of the Depression.

On April 24, Inclusive Communities will host another installment of its Table Talk series, “Native & Indigenous Table Talk: A Resilient People” at the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center in Omaha. “Food for Thought: The Role of Food in AAPI Cultures” will follow on May 29, and “Queer Table Talk: Pride Is Still a Protest” will be held on June 26.

In Lincoln, the Larksong Writers Place hosts First Friday book talks on April 5 with Timothy Schaffert and May 7 with Lee Ann Roripaugh.

In Lincoln, the Angels Theatre Company’s Salon Reading Series pre-  sents Man & Wife by Emma Goldman-Sherman on April 7 and 11 and 1000 Miles by Vanessa Garcia on May 5 and 9. Lincoln residents and visitors can also attend preconcert chats hosted by the city’s symphony orchestra on April 29, May 14, and June 18, which will be recorded and posted online.

New Hampshire Humanities hosts the United We Stand series Knit Democracy Together this spring. 
Photo caption

New Hampshire Humanities hosts the United We Stand series Knit Democracy Together this spring. 

—Artwork by Eve Jacobs-Carnahan, photo by Paul Rogers  

New Hampshire
On April 9, Carrie Brown leads a discussion of Amor Towles’s 2011 book The Rules of Civility at Jaffrey Public Library, as part of the council’s humanities scholar-in-residence program.

This spring, New Hampshire Humanities hosts Knit Democracy Together, a series of United We Stand events, across the state. Discussions include one on gerrymandering and ranked-choice voting at the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene on April 11; the electoral college at the Weeks Memorial Library in Lancaster on April 18; and the opening of a State House collaborative sculpture at the New Hampshire State Library on June 13.

New Mexico
National Book Award-winning poet and essayist Martín Espada reads from his work on April 13 at SOMOS Salon in Taos.

The AfroMundo Festival returns April 13–20, with music, film screenings, and panel discussions across Albuquerque. This year’s events, centered on Colombia, Costa Rica, and Jamaica, will include a banjo workshop and a Hubby Jenkins concert.

On April 20, the Japanese American Citizens League hosts a film screening and discussion at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, followed by a guided tour of the city’s internment camp marker at the Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park.  

New York
The CUNY Graduate Center hosts a conversation on April 11 with historians Ned Blackhawk and Nicole Eustace on central New York and eastern Canada’s Haudenosaunee-speaking Iroquois Confederacy. In his 2023 book, The Rediscovery of America, Blackhawk examines a 1710 diplomatic voyage of the group’s elders to London and the portraits painted in their honor. In Covered with Night, Eustace looks at the Haudenosaunee and British-penned Treaty of 1722—the oldest continuously recognized treaty in U.S. law.

The Lincoln School Story follows the five Ohio plaintiffs and their attorneys in Clemons v. Board of Education, pictured here in September 1954.
Photo caption

The Lincoln School Story follows the five Ohio plaintiffs and their attorneys in Clemons v. Board of Education, pictured here in September 1954.

 —Photograph courtesy Ohio Humanities

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. When Brown was decided in 1954, making school segregation illegal across the United States, communities around the country became battlegrounds for testing the limits of the decision, in the courts and on the streets. Brown @ 70, a series of events this spring from Ohio Humanities, honors that legacy and the state’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

The Lincoln School Story documentary airs on PBS this spring. The film follows a group of Black mothers and children in the small town of Hillsboro who marched for school desegregation every day for nearly two years, from 1954 to 1956, in one of the longest sustained protests of the Civil Rights Movement, while their legal case—with help from NAACP lawyers Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley—wound its way through the federal courts. Last year, the council partnered with Columbus-based independent publisher Daydreamers Press to develop the story into a children’s book told through the eyes of one of the real-life marchers, Joyce Clemons.

The spring/summer issue of Oklahoma Humanities magazine explores the impulse to “go.” Stories follow a woman at sea with her whaling husband and an enslaved man who shipped himself to freedom. In support of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative and a Special Chair’s Grant from NEH, the council will also share the complex legacy of two Oklahoma schools, Chilocco and Riverside, and the diversity of their student experiences.

The Tulsa Air and Space Museum opens its updated exhibition May 1, “Excellence in Flight: Women in Aerospace,” celebrating the accomplishments of women such as Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, women Army Air Forces service pilots in WWII, and female astronauts.

The Museum on Main Street exhibition “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” opens April 13 at the Nowata Historical Society & Museum, where it runs through May 25 before opening at the Bristow Train Depot & Museum on June 1.

The council hosts a conversation on April 3, about poverty and addiction, in the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland. The speaker, Eli Saslow, is a national reporter for the New York Times whose recent work has focused on homelessness, inequality, and opioid addiction. This conversation explores how the intersecting crises of housing, drug addiction, and mental health affect people and communities across the country. The conversation screens live in La Grande and streams on YouTube.

On May 16 and 17, the council organizes a training session for community members to plan and lead discussions about vital issues and ideas across differences, beliefs, and backgrounds.

The TRUTHSayers Speaker Series returns May 30 at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center in Pittsburgh. Featuring Isabel Wilkerson, author of the New York Times best-sellers The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, the event brings to light powerful stories of migration, family, and citizenship within the city’s Black community.

South Carolina
The inaugural Lancaster County Literary Festival runs April 12 to 14. Programming includes a community reading of Lowcountry Boil by Susan Boyer and P is for Palmetto by Carol Crane, with an appearance by Boyer on April 13. A poetry and open-mic event will be held on April 14 and a StoryWalk will be installed in downtown Lancaster, with a display of pages from a children’s book along a guided walking path.

The council’s program Just Sharing: Building Community through Stories of Our Past, runs through June with a series of panel discussions and community conversations. Historians from Clemson University and the University of South Carolina join a local scholar in each community, presenting stories from the past. Upcoming sessions examine voting and women’s rights at the Littlejohn Community Center in Clemson on April 17 and the state’s civil rights movement at the Orangeburg Conference Center on April 18.

The South Carolina tour of “Spark! Places of Innovation,” a Smithsonian Institution exhibition, opens on June 15 at the Colleton County Museum & Farmers Market in Walterboro. “Spark!” highlights local stories of
innovation in rural America

South Dakota
In April, the council’s Speakers Bureau hosts creative writing workshops with local writer Molly Barari. Sessions will be held April 9 at South Dakota State University’s West River Research & Extension building in Rapid City and April 20 at the Custer County Library. On May 4, Shane Gerlach discusses the history of comic books at Brookings Public Library.

The musician-poet duo Pegie Douglas and Sherl Cederburg perform this June at Badlands Heritage Guest Ranch in Jackson County. Featuring campfire songs and poetry readings, events explore the Black Hills and the West, on June 14, and the life of American poet Charles Badger Clark, on June 21.

The council hosts a virtual discussion of Wiwayang Wacipi Tawicoyake (the teachings of the sundance) with Rich “Hmuya Mani” Two Dogs on April 10.

The Power of Possibility, a public sculpture commissioned in 2022 for Dakota Wesleyan University’s School of Business, Leadership, and Innovation, is the subject of a new documentary, which premieres at the university’s Sherman Center on May 21.

The K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library hosts two council events in June: a teen book party, centered on Brandon Hobson’s recent young adult novel The Storyteller, which follows a young Indigenous man whose mother has gone missing; and an exhibition of photographs of missing and murdered Indigenous people in the state.

This spring, Humanities Texas screens the documentary Seadrift in Houston, Galveston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Austin. The film chronicles racial tensions that divided a small town in the early days of Vietnamese refugee arrivals on the Texas Gulf Coast, and the possibility of reconciliation in the aftermath of violence.

The San Antonio Book Festival returns April 13 at the San Antonio Central Library and the University of Texas’s San Antonio Southwest campus. The event, now in its twelfth year, features more than one hundred authors and their newly published books.

On April 20, the San Jacinto Museum and Battlefield Association hosts the San Jacinto Celebration in La Porte. Hundreds of history reenactors will recreate the events leading up to Texas winning its independence at the decisive Battle of San Jacinto.

Launched at the 2023 Utah Humanities Book Festival, the Check Your Shelves podcast features interviews with writers and scholars, including poet Natalie Padilla Young, president of the League of Utah writers Rachael Bush, and historian Betsy Gaines Quammen.

On view in the Virginia exhibition “Indigenous Perspectives” is this picture of Governor Albertis S. Harrison, who served from 1962 to 1966, receiving the annual tribute from the state’s tribes.  
Photo caption

On view in the Virginia exhibition “Indigenous Perspectives” is this picture of Governor Albertis S. Harrison, who served from 1962 to 1966, receiving the annual tribute from the state’s tribes.  

—Photograph courtesy the Library of Virginia  

The exhibition “Indigenous Perspectives” runs through Aug. 17 at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. The show highlights the commonwealth’s Native American history and how the tribes remain a vital part of the state’s culture today. The exhibition includes video interviews with citizens of Virginia’s 11 federally and state-recognized tribes, archival records from the library’s collection, and objects contributed by tribal members.

 The Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace in Abingdon hosts the Southwest Virginia Artisan Conference April 25–27. The three-day event pays homage to the craftsmanship rooted in the Appalachian region, with discussions, hands-on workshops, and networking opportunities.

The Virginia Center for the Book hosts a bookbinding workshop series May 16–19 at the Book Arts Shop at the Jefferson School in Charlottesville. The training introduces basic bookbinding tools, shop equipment, materials, and processes, and prepares participants to undertake a wide range of projects.

This spring, Humanities Washington continues its Speakers Bureau program. Topics include “Fish Wars: Tribal Rights, Resistance, and Resiliency in the Pacific Northwest” on April 11 in Seattle, “The Oldest Hatred: Coming to Terms with Anti-Semitism” on May 11 in Kirkland, and “They Want Our Rhythm, but Not Our Blues: African American Innovation through Pop Culture” on May 16 in Kennewick.  

The council’s annual statewide reading program is under way. Each month, participants are presented with a new reading challenge and invited to share their thoughts with other readers. Prizes will be awarded throughout the year.