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North Carolina Humanities Announces New Mission

From our friends at North Carolina Humanities:

Crowd attending North Carolina Humanities’ 2019 John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities ceremony honoring North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green. The award is an example of how NC Humanities connects diverse people and spurs dialogue.

CHARLOTTE—North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit serving North Carolinians for nearly 50 years, today announced completion of a rebranding effort to reflect its dedication to bringing together people of every walk of life and sparking dialogue.

The organization has shortened its name to North Carolina Humanities to put the focus on “humanities” — everything that makes us human, traditionally with an emphasis on culture, history, literature, philosophy and more. At the heart of the rebranding is a new, modern mission: to connect North Carolinians with cultural experiences that spur dialogue, deepen human connections, and inspire community.

“We envision a North Carolina enriched by the humanities and equipped with empathy, understanding and respect,” says Executive Director Sherry Paula Watkins.

“People nationwide still are grappling with the effects of a global pandemic and how to confront the realities of racism and discrimination,” Watkins says. “North Carolina Humanities can be a unifying force by providing meaningful cultural experiences at a time when we need connections more than ever.”

North Carolina Humanities delivers programs, offers grant funding, connects diverse people and spurs dialogue in a number of ways. For example, the organization:

  • awarded over $637,000 in relief grants last year to assist 60 museums, libraries, historical societies and other cultural organizations in North Carolina sustain jobs and humanities education during the pandemic.
  • funded a statewide African American Military and Veteran Lineage project by the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, including a documentary, In the Face of Adversity, with African American veterans of World War II sharing their stories of serving during the era of segregation.
  • is touring across North Carolina the Smithsonian Institution’s “Water/Ways” exhibit about what water means culturally, socially and spiritually.
  • is preparing to tour the Smithsonian exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America.”

The rebranding also includes an extensive redesign of North Carolina Humanities’ website and a new, quilt-inspired logo that represents the stitching together of North Carolinians’ shared stories. A new tagline—“All together, amazing.”—reminds people we are together in our humanity.

A catalyst for the process was the “Can We Talk?” community program North Carolina Humanities presented with Queens University of Charlotte in 2019 that helped participants talk to one another gracefully despite different political views or cultural perspectives. That led staff and board trustees to think about how North Carolina Humanities could be more actively engaged in bringing empathy to the forefront of their work.

“With the rebranding, we transform ourselves as an organization to meet the challenging environment in which we live,” says Nancy A. Gutierrez, chair of North Carolina Humanities Board of Trustees and dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“As North Carolinians all, we strive to create opportunities to come together. We share so much, even if our backgrounds, race, professions and political affiliations differ,” Gutierrez says. “The humanities are about connecting with people. The humanities matter.”