In The News



At Virtual Award Show Sylvia Ewing and Dr. Eve L. Ewing Will Receive the Public Humanities Award, Weinberg/Newton Gallery Will Receive the Inaugural Beacon Award

CHICAGO, May 21, 2020—Today Illinois Humanities will present the 2020 Public Humanities Award and the inaugural Beacon Award via livestream and with a virtual audience of more than 700 people from across Illinois, the broader U.S., and international locations. The Public Humanities Award winners are mother and daughter Sylvia Ewing and Dr. Eve L. Ewing, eminent activists, journalists, educators, and writers. The Beacon Award recipient is Weinberg/Newton Gallery, founded by life-long advocates and philanthropists, David Weinberg and Jerry Newton.

“I know that many people in the humanities are feeling hopeless right now, or like this work doesn’t matter in the face of life and death,” said Dr. Ewing. “But what has become clear is how vital the arts and humanities are in times of crisis.” Of receiving the Public Humanities Award at the same time as her mother, she said, “I am so honored to share this award with a person who, from the day I was born, shaped my understanding of why the humanities make life worth living.”

The Weinberg/Newton Gallery issued a statement noting, “We are incredibly honored to accept the inaugural Beacon Award from Illinois Humanities. It is our greatest hope that any recognition of our efforts will only further advance this work by driving awareness, fostering change, and cultivating a culture of consciousness.”

“We are thrilled to honor Eve and Sylvia and Weinberg/Newton Gallery,” said Gabrielle Lyon, Executive Director of Illinois Humanities. “Our 2020 awardees demonstrate a profound, multigenerational commitment to the types of experiences that embody Illinois Humanities’ mission to make the humanities accessible to a broad and diverse public. Sylvia, Eve and Weinberg/Newton Gallery illustrate for all of us what it looks like to use the power of the humanities to bridge what otherwise might divide us.”

Sylvia Ewing is a nonprofit executive at Elevate Energy and an award-winning former journalist who was affiliated with WBEZ, WTTW and other media outlets. She has used her considerable communications skills to develop affordable accessible housing and worked for positive change in reproductive rights and public education. She continues to produce cultural events for the Chicago Public Library, the Poetry Foundation and others to build community and inspire action.

Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist and professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration where her teaching and research focus on race and education. A prolific writer, she is the author of four books, including the forthcoming Maya and the Robot, the poetry collection 1919, Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side, and the award-winning debut poetry collection Electric Arches. She also currently writes the Champions series for Marvel Comics and previously wrote the acclaimed Ironheart series, as well as other Marvel projects.

David Weinberg and Jerry Newton founded Weinberg/Newton Gallery in 2006, and since 2016 have devoted the gallery’s programming to creating space for dialogue about the many social justice issues that concern communities in Chicago and beyond. As a non-commercial gallery, Weinberg/Newton’s mission is to collaborate with nonprofit organizations and artists to educate and engage the public on social justice issues. Through the artwork and programming of more than 25 exhibitions to date, the gallery has provided space for open discourse on critical contemporary issues facing communities.

The 2020 PHA Host Committee includes Chicago’s First Lady Amy Eshleman along with Jhmira Alexander, Daniel Ash, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Andrew Broy, Susan Eleuterio and Thomas Sourlis, Anne Evens, Dedrea and Paul Gray, Juana Guzman, Alison Jack, Lowell Jaffe and Sam Yingling, Eric Johnson and Anissa Listak, Paula R. Kahn, Lisa Lee and Adam Bush, Gabrielle Lyon, Sendhil Revuluri and Venu Gupta, Jane Saks and Emma Ruby-Sachs, Gail Shiel-Mahoney and George Mahoney, Isaac and Ave Stanley, Liz Thompson, Laura Washington, Jennifer Wirtz and others.

Past PHA awardees have included artist Bette Cerf Hill; architect Jeanne Gang; Lisa Lee, Executive Director of the National Public House Museum; the Honorable Abner and Zoe Mikva; publisher Bruce Sagan; and, Carlos Tortolero, Founder and President of the National Museum of Mexican Art. Last year’s recipients were actress, director, and playwright Cheryl Lynn Bruce and artist Kerry James Marshall.

The Illinois Humanities Public Humanities Award, first given in 1984, celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions to the civic and cultural life of the state through the humanities. The Beacon Award is given to individuals or organizations committed to creating space for dialogue about the many social justice issues that concern communities in Chicago and beyond. The Awards event is Illinois Humanities’ signature annual celebratory event, and secures unrestricted funds for free, high-quality humanities experiences across the state, particularly for individuals living on low incomes, in counties and towns in rural areas, at small arts and cultural organizations, and in communities highly impacted by mass incarceration.


About Illinois Humanities
Illinois Humanities activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. Illinois Humanities is a nonprofit organization and the state’s affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. More at and on our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube @ILHumanities.