White House Names Humanities Honorees Washington
President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the 2000 National Humanities Medalists, an award administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities. An award ceremony was held last month in Washington and the winners were honored at a White House dinner.
“The 2000 National Humanities Medalists are distinguished individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to American cultural life and thought,” says NEH Chairman William R. Ferris. “Through their powers of creativity and vision, the National Humanities Medalists are helping to preserve, interpret and expand the nation’s cultural heritage. Their work represents an invaluable public service.”The 2000 National Humanities Medal recipients are:Robert N. Bellah, eminent authority on the sociology of religion, is Elliott Professor of Sociology, Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. His scholarship, ranging from American civic history and responsibility to East Asian religions, has affected trends, methods and current research in the academic study of religion. In his works, Bellah addresses the problems of individualism and change in modern religious practice, charting American religious life from the “common project” set forth by the nation’s founding documents to the counterculture and religious experimentation of the 1960s and ’70s. The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in a Time of Trial (1975), winner of the Sorokin Award, examines the religious foundations of American identity. The best-selling Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (1985), of which Bellah is senior author, examines the tension in contemporary American life between radical individualism and the deep yearning for community. The book was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.Will Campbell is a renowned civil rights activist whose 16 books have earned him the Alex Haley Memorial Award for Literary Distinction, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union. Campbell himself is the subject of two books, Will Campbell and the Soul of the South and Will Campbell: Radical Prophet of the South. Ordained at age 17, Campbell was active in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s, first serving as a university chaplain at the University of Mississippi, then as a “race relations troubleshooter” for the National Council of Churches and later as the director of the Committee of Southern Churchmen, an activist organization. His Brother to a Dragonfly (1977) was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and a National Book Award finalist, and was named one of Time magazine’s 10 most notable works of nonfiction of the 1970s. His novel The Glad River (1982) won the Friends of American Writers first prize for fiction. Providence (1992), a history of one square mile of land in Holmes County, Miss., from the Choctaw period to the present, was awarded the Richard Wright Prize for Literary Excellence. His other works include The Stem of Jesse: The Costs of Community at a 1960s Southern School (1995), an account of higher education desegregation in the South, and And Also With You: Duncan Gray and the American Dilemma (1997), a biography of an Episcopal bishop in Mississippi. Judy Crichton, a documentary writer, producer and director, was executive producer of PBS’ premier historical series “The American Experience” from its inception in 1986 until her retirement in 1997. Under her leadership, the series won all of television’s most prestigious awards, including six Emmys, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and the George Foster Peabody Award.
Crichton is currently executive consultant to the series. During her career, which combined outstanding scholarship with superb filmmaking, she was executive producer of more than 100 programs, including the NEH-funded films: “New York: A Documentary Film,” “TR: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt,” “FDR,” “Andrew Carnegie: The Richest Man in the World,” “The Donner Party” and “Lindbergh.” The first woman producer at CBS Reports in 1973, Crichton was also a documentary writer as well as a writer, producer and director on the Closeup unit at ABC News. In 1997, Crichton contributed to the script for the PBS documentary “America 1900” and authored the book America 1900: Turning Point. She is a member of the Society of American Historians and the Writers’ and Directors’ Guilds of America.Scholar and curator David Driskell is one of the world’s leading authorities on African American art. As a professor of art and art history at Howard and Fisk universities, and as currently Distinguished University Professor of Art, Emeritus at the University of Maryland, he has trained many art historians, curators and educators. He has helped organize major African American art exhibitions, including the pathbreaking 1976 Los Angeles County Museum of Art show “Two Centuries of Black American Art, 1750-1950.” This exhibition toured four museums throughout the country and led to new research, discovery of new artistic talent and the spawning of other African American exhibitions. He also curated “Hidden Heritage: Afro-American Art, 1800-1950” (1985), “Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America” (1987) and “Introspective: Contemporary Art by Americans and Brazilians of African Descent” (1989). His television documentary, “Hidden Heritage: The Roots of Black American Painting,” won critical acclaim on four continents. Driskell has lectured on African American art in institutions across the nation and serves on the boards of the American Federation of Arts and the Cosby Foundation Scholarship Advisory Committee. He is a member and former chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s Commission of the National Museum of African Art.Ernest J. Gaines, author of award-winning novels and short stories exploring race and culture in the American South, is professor of English and writer-in-residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The TV movie adaptation of his The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971) won nine Emmys, and the 1999 HBO movie adaptation of A Lesson Before Dying (1993) won two. A Lesson Before Dying won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award and was a 1997 selection of Oprah’s Book Club. The book also was adapted as a play, which was presented at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and at New York’s Signature Theater in 2000. His honors include selection as a MacArthur Foundation fellow in 1993 for his lifetime achievement in historical writing, as Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 1989 and as a Guggenheim Fellow in 1971. He received France’s Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, in 1996 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1998. Herman Guerrero is a Northern Mariana Islands philanthropist, humanist and civic proponent whose leadership has created a lasting humanities legacy on the islands. As chairman and member of the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities, he has encouraged a variety of projects. These include institutes for teachers, a photographic and oral documentary history of the indigenous community, translation of 16th-century Jesuit texts, publication of history books relating how the Northern Marianas became part of the United States, and a documentary film showing the effects of modern-day changes on the roots of indigenous island culture and traditions. He is chair of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History and Culture, where he continues to foster preservation and understanding of the history and culture of the Northern Mariana Islands. He also served as president of the Second and Third Northern Marianas Constitutional Conventions in 1985 and 1995.Quincy Jones’ varied career as a musician, composer, cultural preservationist and humanitarian is legendary. Beginning his career playing trumpet with the Lionel Hampton, Bumps Blackwell and Dizzy Gillespie bands, he has been a composer, conductor, producer, instrumentalist, arranger, multimedia executive, publisher and entrepreneur. He is producer of the world’s best-selling single (“We Are The World”) and the world’s best-selling album (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”). He has written scores for more than 30 films, and he coproduced Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, which won 11 Oscar nominations. Among his many accolades are 26 Grammys (with a record 77 nominations), the Grammy Living Legend Award and an Emmy. His projects have included development of the urban culture magazine VIBE, a Web site dedicated to South African music and culture, and more recently the upstart cable network New Urban Entertainment (NUE), among many others. He was executive producer of the hit television series “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” To foster appreciation of African American music, Jones helped to found the Institute for Black American Music and the Black Arts Festival in Chicago. In the 1960s and ’70s he was a major supporter of Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts to promote economic development in America’s inner cities and he later served on the board of Jesse Jackson’s People United to Save Humanity (PUSH). In 1999 he collaborated in “NetAid,” an international event to draw attention to world poverty. He is currently writing his autobiography, which will be available in fall 2001.Barbara Kingsolver was named by Writer’s Digest in 1999 as one of the 100 best writers of the 20th century. She is a leading voice for human rights, social responsibility and the environment in contemporary American fiction. Her best-selling novel The Poisonwood Bible (1998) was a finalist for both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her other novels are Prodigal Summer (2000), Pigs in Heaven (1993), Animal Dreams (1990) and The Bean Trees (1988), which was named a notable book by the American Library Association and The New York Times. Her nonfiction includes High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never (1995) and Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 (1990). She also has a book of poetry,
Another America: Otra America (1992). Retired Yale historian
Edmund S. Morgan is a distinguished authority on Puritan and American colonial history whose many books have reached general as well as scholarly audiences. Among his 12 books are Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America (1988), which won
Columbia University’s 1989 Bancroft Prize in American History, and American Slavery, American Freedom (1975), which won the Society of American Historians’ Francis Parkman Prize, the Southern Historical Association’s Charles S. Sydnor Prize and the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Award. Morgan received the William Clyde DeVane Medal in 1971 from the Yale Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He has received numerous fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council. Morgan is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Organization of American Historians, the British Academy and the Royal Historical Society. A past president of the Organization of American Historians, he is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and chairman of the board of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin project at Yale. Princeton University English professor Toni Morrison is America’s most renowned Black woman writer. Author of seven novels, a collection of essays and dozens of articles and reviews, she won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first American woman to win the award since 1938 and the first African American ever. Her novel Song of Solomon won the 1977 National Book Critics Award, and Beloved won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize. She was a senior editor at Random House for 20 years before being appointed Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities at Princeton in 1989. In 1990 she delivered the Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Massey Lectures at Harvard. She also wrote the lyrics, with music by Andre Previn, for “Honey and Rue” and “Four Songs,” which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1992 and 1994 respectively. Her lyrics for “Sweet Talk,” with music by Richard Danielpour, premiered in 1997. Morrison is a founding member of the Academie Universelle des Cultures and a trustee of the New York Public Library. She is also a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the International Parliament of Writers, the Author’s Guild, and the Africa Watch and Helsinki Watch Committees on Human Rights. Some of her honors include the Rhegium Julii Prize for Literature (1994), the Condorcet Medal, Paris (1994), the Pearl Buck Award (1994), Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, Paris (1993), and the Modern Language
Association’s Commonwealth Award in Literature (1989). Earl Shorris is the creator of the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, an experimental attempt to transform the lives of the poor through education in the humanities. The course, based on the Renaissance philosopher Petrarch’s idea of the humanities, is open to disadvantaged students between the ages of 18 and 35. Shorris launched the free, eight-month college-level course in 1995 at the Roberto Clemente Family Guidance Center on New York’s Lower East Side. Students meet twice weekly to discuss readings in philosophy, American history, art history, logic and literature. Now under the sponsorship of Bard College, the Clemente Course is offered in 14 locations across the country. Other versions of the course are taught in Alaska in Yup’ik in conjunction with the University of Alaska at Anchorage, and in Oklahoma, partly in Cherokee at Tahlequah and partly in Kiowa at Anadarko, in conjunction with the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Shorris has been a contributing editor to Harper’s magazine since 1972. His novels include Under the Fifth Sun: A Novel of Pancho Villa (1980) and In Yucatan (2000). His nonfiction works include The Oppressed Middle: Scenes from Corporate Life (1980), A Nation of Salesmen: The Triumph of the Market and the Subversion of Culture and Latinos: A Biography of the People (1992). His New American Blues: A Journey through Poverty to Democracy (1997) was revised to concentrate on the Clemente Course and reissued in paperback in August 2000 as Riches for the Poor: The Clemente Course in the Humanities. Virginia Driving Hawk
Sneve is author of 20 books and numerous short stories and essays about Native American life and culture. A retired teacher, Sneve grew up on the Rosebud Reservation of South Dakota. Her 30-year career in education includes teaching in South Dakota public schools in White and Pierre, counseling at the Flandreau Indian School and Rapid City Central High School and teaching at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle. Her novels for children about Lakota life and culture include Jimmy Yellow Hawk (1972), High Elk’s Treasure (1972), The Chichi Hoohoo Bogeyman (1975) and The Trickster and the Troll (1997), an imaginative combination of Lakota and Norwegian folklore. Completing the Circle (1995) combines history, autobiography and legend to tell the story of several generations of women in her family. Recently she has written several volumes in Holiday House’s First American Series, a 5th-grade level edition about the history and culture of the various Native North American groups. A talented storyteller, she has for 20 years been a popular lecturer for the South Dakota Humanities Council.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com