Mississippi Humanities Council announces 2023 honorees for work dedicated to preserving Mississippi history

Published 4:18 pm Sunday, December 18, 2022

A woman who coordinated the 50th-anniversary reunion of the Freedom Rides in Mississippi, a professor dedicated to democracy in the state, a woman who established a prison book program at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, a man dedicated to cultural and heritage tourism in Southwest Mississippi and a museum dedicated to telling the story of William Holtzclaw’s efforts to educate rural Black Mississippians are this year’s honorees from The Mississippi Humanities Council.

The organization announced the winners of its 2023 Public Humanities Awards recognizing outstanding work in preserving and sharing Mississippi’s unique history and culture. The awards ceremony will be held on March 24, 2023, at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson. Tickets can be purchased at mshumanities.org.

Cora Norman Award

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Jeanne Luckett, a leader in public humanities in Mississippi for over 50 years, will receive the Cora Norman Award which recognizes lifetime achievement in the humanities. Luckett, a former Mississippi Humanities Council board chair, has worked on countless humanities projects over the years. She was very involved in the beginning years of Mississippi Educational Television (MPB today); Luckett developed the exhibits about Medgar and Myrlie Evers at the Evers House and the Jackson airport and coordinated the 50th-anniversary commemoration of the Freedom Rides. She has developed exhibits for the 18th-century LaPointe-Krebs House in Pascagoula and exhibits for the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson. She has worked with the Eudora Welty Foundation for several years and is an active researcher and writer for the Mississippi Freedom Trail.

Also being honored for their outstanding contributions to Mississippi humanities:

Humanities Scholar Award

Dr. Rebecca Tuuri, associate professor of history at USM. Dr. Tuuri is the scholar for the Smithsonian exhibit “Voices & Votes: Democracy in America., currently traveling the state. She worked closely with all six host sites creating unique presentations for each. Dr. Tuuri is also a popular member of the MHC speaker’s bureau and serves on the scholars committee for both the Mississippi Freedom Trail and the More Perfect Union project.

Humanities Educator

Dr. Ebony Lumumba, associate professor of English and chair of the Department of English, Foreign Languages, & Speech Communication at Jackson State University.  This award recognizes Dr. Lumumba’s outstanding work leading the MHC’s book discussion program at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. Dr. Lumumba has deeply engaged the men in the works of Mississippi writer Jesmyn Ward. Due to the success of her teaching, the prison book club program is now expanding to other facilities across the state.

Humanities Partner

Dr. Roscoe Barnes, cultural heritage tourism manager at Visit Natchez.  Dr. Barnes has been a vital partner of the MHC, making connections with African American museums and community organizations in Natchez. At least six different MHC grants can be linked to Barnes’ partnership. He has encouraged the Dr. John Banks House, the Rhythm Night Club Memorial Museum and the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture to apply for MHC grants. Once those grants were awarded, he wrote press releases that have been widely carried in the media, always highlighting the impact of the MHC. Like the MHC, Roscoe is a behind-the-scenes connector whose partnership has greatly expanded the Council’s work in southwest Mississippi.

Reflecting Mississippi Award

Utica Institute Museum. The team at Hinds Community College-Utica has done an outstanding job of preserving and telling the story of William Holtzclaw and the Utica Institute, which was established in 1903 to educate rural Black Mississippians. The project has received two major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and multiple grants from the MHC to create the museum on campus, develop an exhibit about the Utica Jubilee Singers, and hold public humanities programs for their campus and Utica community.

Also, the MHC will recognize 30 recipients of the 2023 Humanities Teacher Awards, which pay tribute to outstanding faculty in traditional humanities fields at each of our state’s institutions of higher learning.

The Council invites everyone to join them at their 2023 Public Humanities Awards ceremony and reception March 24, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. at the Two Mississippi Museums.

Tickets for the Mississippi Humanities Council Public Humanities Awards ceremony and reception are $50 each and may be purchased through the MHC website or by sending a check to the Mississippi Humanities Council, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Room 317, Jackson, MS 39211.