IH Newsletter

Enews September 2022

September 30, 2022

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, was celebrated this week. I am Jewish but my family wasn’t very religious when I was growing up; I learned more about being the descendant of political refugees than about High Holy Days. This is probably why I only recently learned that the month prior to Rosh Hashanah, called Elul, is designated a specific time to reflect and ask questions. The idea is to “do the work” to get ready to — in the holidays and year ahead — atone, forgive, heal, and renew.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that the public humanities take intentional work, too; they don’t just happen. The humanities require each to choose to be engaged: to not only take the time to view art or watch a performance but to also make meaning by interpreting the experience; or, through conversation, to take familiar narratives and turn them into questions. When these things happen together, as a public, we can change not just ourselves, but also our communities.

The Country and the City programs Illinois Humanities is hosting in the weeks ahead are designed to provide the space, time, and community within which to ask important questions:

What do I believe?
What do we believe?
Who are we as a community?
What is our Union, the United State of America?
What might make it more perfect?
How might we pursue that perfection?

October is National Arts and Humanities Month. Most Americans believe the humanities help people understand others whose lives are different from their own. And most Americans feel the humanities help strengthen our democracy.

But we have to put in the work. We have to make the time. To be our best selves — as individuals and as members of this imperfect Union — we need to engage in the pursuit.

I look forward to doing the work of the humanities in Illinois, together with you.


Gabrielle Lyon, Executive Director




Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union —

The Country and the City series returns this fall with the premiere of Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union. The series explores the demographic, cultural, and political shifts that shaped Kaskaskia, Illinois, and that carry significant relevance to shaping the democratic vision of the country.

Illinois Humanities’ Program Manager of Statewide Engagement – and Randolph County native — Matt Meacham says, “The remarkably multilayered story of Kaskaskia is essential to the stories of our state and our country.”

The video program, “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, Part 1,” will premiere online on Thursday, October 6, at 7:00 p.m. CDT. A screening and in-person discussion about “A More Perfect Union” will follow at Chester Public Library in Chester, Illinois on Tuesday, October 11, at 6:30 p.m.

Learn more



Chicago Tribune: “Illinois Humanities funds over a dozen ‘Envisioning Justice’ art projects focused on mass incarceration” —

The Chicago Tribune’s Darcel Rockett spoke with Envisioning Justice Program Manager Tyreece Williams about the evolution of the program and its latest exhibition, Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION, in a recently published story.

“There are so many conversations to be had, as to why we’ve gotten to this point where we’re incarcerating people and criminalizing them at such disproportionate rates,” Williams said. “Bringing people together for a shared experience around an art piece or an exhibition or film, all of those things create access points for folks who aren’t already engaged in the conversation.”

Read more




Seven Stories about the Power of Family Recipes —

Inspired by an heirloom Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake recipe featured in Catherine Lambrecht’s Road Scholars presentation on family recipes from the Illinois State Fair, Illinois Humanities staff members were invited to share dishes from their own families and the memories they carry. Their stories reveal the power of a simple meal to transport you to a different time or place and bring back vivid memories of time with loved ones.

Check out family recipes from our staff, and share your own! Email us at LetsEat@ILHumanities.org or tag us on social media @ILHumanities #ILHumanities and we may feature your story on the Illinois Humanities blog or social media.

Read more



October is National Arts and Humanities Month —

Illinois Humanities looks forward to celebrating Illinois Arts and Humanities Month in October, which was officially established by Governor J.B. Pritzker just this month! Read the Governor’s proclamation here.

Throughout October, we will celebrate the important role the humanities play in our individual and communal lives and share upcoming programs so you can experience the humanities with us. Let us know how you’ll be celebrating, and stay tuned for more stories from inside Illinois Humanities.




Latinx Heritage Month —

Illinois Humanities celebrates #LatinxHeritageMonth and the cultural legacy of Latinx/e artists, humanists, and historians who shape and expand our ways of engaging with the world.

We recognize our grantee partners who preserve and support the continuation of these legacies, including ContratiempoBallet Folklorico de ChicagoOPEN Center for the ArtsPuerto Rican Fest ChicagoEl Griot & Areito ProjectCicero IndependienteSegundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural CenterBorderless MagazineThe Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of ChicagoThe National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & CultureMexican Cultural CenterRepertorio Latino Theater Company, and Chicago Latino Theater Alliance.

Celebrate Latin-American culture with upcoming programs from Illinois Road Scholars Catalina Maria Johnson on Latin Hip Hop and Henry Cervantes on Aztec Dance.




The Life and Boundless Legacy of Dr. Margaret T. G. Burroughs —

A teacher, artist, historian, Chicagoan, institution builder, prison educator, and community activist who championed Black history, art, and other spaces, Dr. Margaret T. G. Burroughs often asked, “What will your legacy be?” This year’s Sojourner Scholars students examined Dr. Burroughs’ remarkable life and daunting yet empowering question in relation to archives and memory work. Students read her poetry, learned about her life, experienced her artworks in person, and made art themselves.

Read more about our Scholars’ explorations of Dr. Burroughs’ legacy here.




Illinois Students Celebrated at 6th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards —

Congratulations to our 6th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards winners. This year, we received our most submissions yet — a total of 445 youth poets throughout Illinois! We were delighted to honor the work of these students and to feature a reading from Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson. As the academic year begins, we cannot wait to see what these talented students and poets throughout the state will accomplish!


Learn more



Upcoming Events —

Road Scholars: Latin Hip Hop as the New Poetry
September 29, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. CT
Chatham Area Public Library, 600 E Spruce St, Chatham, IL 62629

Road Scholars: Aztec Dance – Xochitl-Quentzal – Mexico’s Ancient Culture and Living Tradition
October 1, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. CT
Messenger Public Library of North Aurora, 113 Oak St, North Aurora, IL 60542

The Country and the City: “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, Part 1” Online Premiere
October 6, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CT
Video Premiere

Road Scholars: Aztec Dance – Xochitl-Quentzal – Mexico’s Ancient Culture and Living Tradition
October 9, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT
Elgin Public Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, 225 Grand Blvd, Elgin, IL 60120

The Country and the City: Screening and Discussion of “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, Part 1
October 11, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. CT
Chester Public Library, 733 S State St, Chester, IL 62233

Road Scholars: No One Ever Sees Indians: Native Americans in Media
October 12, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. CT
Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 600 N East St, Bloomington, IL 61701

Road Scholars: Jazz: America’s Own Indigenous Art Form
October 13, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. CT
Des Plaines History Center, 781 Pearson St, Des Plaines, IL 60016

Road Scholars: How Corn Changed Itself and Then Changed Everything Else
October 16, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. CT
University of Illinois Extension Service, 402 Ava Rd, Murphysboro, IL 62966

Road Scholars: No One Ever Sees Indians: Native Americans in Media
October 17, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Indian Trails Public Library District, 355 Schoenbeck Rd, Wheeling, IL 60090

Road Scholars: Vibrant, Resilient, Still Here: Contemporary Native American’s in Illinois
October 20, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. CT
Chillicothe Public Library, 430 N Bradley Ave, Chillicothe, IL 61523

Road Scholars: The Journey of Mollie’s War: WACs and WWII
October 27, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. CT
Covenant Living, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062



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Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration.

Learn more at ilhumanities.org

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