Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

California Humanities Awards $250,000 to 10 New Humanities Projects

Humanities for All Project Grantee, Bringing it Home Humanities: Learning through Japantown Immersive. Photo courtesy of San Jose Taiko

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Kerri Young, Communications Manager,  

January 11, 2022—(OAKLAND, CA)—California Humanities is proud to announce its latest Humanities for All Project Grant awards totaling $250,000 to 10 nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the state. Over the next two years, these grants will support ambitious and innovative projects conducted by these community partners that will use the humanities to provide insights on a diverse array of topics, including the little-known history of Black people in rural Northern California, how stories and memories create a sense of place and identity in the Central Valley, and how Arab immigrant and refugee youth are making San Diego their new home. 

Projects will take many forms, including interpretive exhibits (physical and digital), performances and discussions, lectures, workshops and demonstrations, film screenings, walking tours, and other activities embedded in community celebrations or festivals. All will aim to promote intercultural, and intergeneration understanding and reach new, underserved, and established audiences. As well as engaging people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, several projects will focus on involving youth in humanities-based learning and knowledge production activities. Many will offer programming in multiple languages and draw on the contributions of individual and institutional collaborators.  

“We are thrilled to assist this new round of Humanities for All Project Grant recipients in sharing stories of cultural life across California,” said President and CEO Julie Fry. “From a mini film festival and art competition to public space design and bilingual story-sharing events, these projects will continue to expand engagement and public dialogue around humanities programming in new and exciting ways.”  

Projects Awarded Winter 2022 
Note: In this round of Humanities for All Project Grant awards, California Humanities designated specific funding for the area of Youth Voices. These projects involve teens as primary program participants or audiences and address topics or subjects of interest to them (denoted by “*”).  


Afrolatine California 
California State University, San Bernardino Philanthropic Foundation, San Bernardino 
Project Director: Arianna Huhn 


Before California was incorporated into the United States, it was part of Alta California, and one in five Californios (Mexican settlers) was of African descent. Although people of African descent played an important role in modern California’s development, Afrolatine identities, experiences, and cultures are seldom highlighted (or even recognized) as unique contributions to the fabric of our state today. To correct this, the Anthropology Museum at California State University, San Bernardino, is preparing an exhibition to open in September 2023 aimed at recognizing and amplifying silenced and overlooked Afrolatine stories and experiences. “Afrolatine California” will include interviews with 21 Afrolatine Californians in written and audio forms, along with portraits of interviewees commissioned from California-based artists. To further disrupt stereotypes of latinidad that erase or negate Blackness, the exhibition will highlight the identities and cultures of four Afro-descendant populations in contemporary Mexico, curated by community representatives. Accompanying public programming will include an art competition (crowdsourcing the design of an Afrolatine-themed lotería game, that will be freely distributed), opportunities to learn from and build traditional dance structures with a Oaxacan artisan, performances by Afrolatine creators, and a working group to produce Afrolatine-focused lesson plans for California schools. 


Before Silicon Valley Project: Mexican Cannery and Agricultural Workers in the Santa Clara Valley 1920-1960 
San Jose Parks Foundation, San Jose 
Project Director: Margo McBane 


A three-month series of community engagement activities programs in spring and summer 2023 will accompany the soft launch of “Before Silicon Valley: Mexican American Agricultural and Cannery Workers in the Santa Clara Valley 1920-1960,” a new bilingual website on the San Jose State University Library website. This website frames local 20th century Mexican American history within recent scholarship using oral histories, an online exhibit, mini-documentaries, scholar commentaries, a timeline, and K-12 lesson plans. Public programs, which will be hosted by libraries, museums, historical institutions, and community organizations throughout Santa Clara County, will include a tardeada (a traditional afternoon party featuring music, food, and dancing), a bicycle tour of historic sites led by a local cycling club San José Bike Party, and a series of community conversations built around themes of work, home, family, community, and culture, each one incorporating a mini-documentary screening, a scholar talk, and audience discussion that will reference and draw attention to the rich content of the website. The complete website will be available beginning with Hispanic Heritage Month 2023.  


Braiding Water: An Art and Cultural Festival Celebrating Our Water Resources and Rituals 
R.A.C.E. Matters San Luis Obispo County, San Luis Obispo 
Project Director: Courtney Haile


“Braiding Water” is a two-month long, multi-location, multimedia arts experience centering water and local BIPOC communities’ relationships to it through culture and art, which will be held in San Luis Obispo County during September-October 2023, with a culminating living archive/gallery exhibition January-March 2024. A collaboration between R.A.C.E. Matters, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA), and Southern-California-based visiting artist April Banks, the project foregrounds the aquatic connections of populations historically marginalized from public water resources and discussions about water planning and conservation, asserts a critical lens of environmental justice into public dialogue, engages participants in an exploration of water’s varied meanings for the region’s diverse communities, and invites all community members to brainstorm and envision a sustainable and racially just water future. Events will include a poolside opening ceremony/community forum, community painting of a beach lifeguard station to serve as a hub for a variety of beach events, an oceanside mini film festival, pier-based live storytelling event, world-building zine workshop, a web experience, and program archive/gallery exhibition and panel discussion.


Bringing it Home: Humanities Learning through Japantown Immersive 
San Jose Taiko, San Jose 
Project Director: Wisa Uemura


San Jose Taiko (SJT), a nationally recognized professional taiko group and an artistic voice for Japanese and Asian Americans, will dive into the world of humanities education through “Bringing it Home: Humanities Learning through Japantown Immersive.” Using the power of the performing arts in an interactive open-street event, the project will bring people of different ages, experiences, and cultural backgrounds together to explore and better understand the Asian American experience and the complex ways art, culture, and daily life influence and are influenced by race, geography, and ethnicity. JI will increase knowledge and raise awareness of San Jose Japantown (Jtown) and the ways Japanese/Asian Americans have been shaped by, and have shaped, the Silicon Valley region; gather, share, and preserve stories reflecting the contemporary Jtown and Asian American experience; and establish new, and strengthen existing, connections between artists, business owners, residents and culture bearers within Jtown and between Jtown and its surrounding environment. The event in May 2023 will draw an estimated 1500 people representing the full diversity of the San Francisco Bay area in all ways.  


Homeland and Homemaking: Arab Youth Tell Their Stories through the Arts* 
Majdal: Arab Community Center of San Diego (Fiscal Sponsor Mission Edge San Diego), San Diego 
Project Director: Ramah Awad 


San Diego is home to many new Middle Eastern immigrant and refugee communities. To provide an opportunity for some of these new residents to share their stories and experiences, the Majdal Center will organize an interpretive exhibit, “Homeland and Homemaking: Arab Youth Tell Their Stories through the Arts,” hosted at the El Cajon Public Library in 2024. The Center’s Arab refugee and new immigrant youth members will showcase content that will be developed through a series of workshops led by experts over the course of two years. Using various media, including digital storytelling and intergenerational oral histories, youth participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their lives and develop their own narratives relating to themes of displacement, migration, resettlement, and diaspora. The exhibit will be accompanied by public programs organized by the youth participants, the project team, and community partners.  


Humanities for All: DEEP MAPS* 
Fresno City College, Fresno 
Project Director: Elena Harvey-Collins 


The term “Deep Maps” was first used by Osage writer and historian William Least Heat Moon in descriptions of place, which include storytelling and personal experience to articulate the ineffable, living complexity of places and landscapes. Using this framework, “Humanities for All: DEEP MAPS” will create an interpretive exhibition and public programs featuring artists, designers, and cultural practitioners whose place-based, interdisciplinary work re-introduces such subjective and social qualities of space–including memory, history, longing, grief, time, possibility, informal uses, and the needs of plant and animal communities—into the maps we make (and stories we tell) about landscape at a moment of ecological crisis. Rooting these ideas within Fresno’s local context, the exhibit will also include materials related to the regions geographic history, focusing on land use and water politics, addressing themes of spatial and environmental justice in rural, urban, and suburban places. Several public programs will provide additional engagement opportunities, including a community mapping workshop and a weekly “deep dive” into a single work in the show called “One Hour, One Work.” 


Platforms—Bridging the Legacies and Futures of Black Autonomy in Leimert Park 
Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles 
Project Director: Thabisile Griffin 


“Platforms—Bridging the Legacies and Futures of Black Autonomy in Leimert Park” is a place-based story gathering and sharing project led by a multidisciplinary team of humanities and design faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) with a multi-generational group of culture bearers, business owners, and artists of Leimert Park. The project will create both literal and figurative platforms for the people of Leimert Park to share stories of their community’s cultural life, while providing an opportunity for residents to affirm their rights to spatial justice and claim their roles as collaborators in re-envisioning its public space and its future. The project promotes understanding of the complex and contested architectural and urban possibilities nested within legacies and possible futures of Black autonomy in this neighborhood, considered the Black nucleus of Los Angeles, at a critical moment in its history. Activities will include study circles, story gathering, public space design and culminating with a free, outdoor public event in summer 2024 to engage the broader Leimert community. The project goal is to harvest, produce, and share knowledge through “Leimert Stories” that honor historical, existing, and emerging systems of Black autonomy in this community. 


The Salir del Closet (Out of the Closet) Project* 
Teatro Nagual (TeNa), Fiscal Sponsor: Latino Center of Art and Culture, Sacramento 
Project Director: Richard Falcon 


Teatro Nagual (TeNa), in collaboration with Sacramento State University’s Center for Race, Immigration, and Social Justice (CRISJ), will organize “The Salir del Closet (Out of the Closet) Project,” a 12-month series of bilingual dialogues (or charlas) among young adults who self-identify as Latinx and LGBTQ+ in the Sacramento community to gather and share their stories. Using a conversational format, guided by an experienced facilitator, these charlas will provide comfortable spaces for young people to explore the intersection of gender, sexual, and cultural identity and to examine Latinx-specific cultural strengths and challenges, and how these can influence, contribute, and/or challenge the process of acceptance of intersecting identities. Simultaneously, participants will be guided to see how the arts can be a vehicle for their individual and community expression, foster self-reflection and encourage healing, promote understanding, support our LGBTQ+ family members as well as strengthen intergenerational connections. 


Shakespeare for All 
Old Globe Theatre, San Diego 
Project Director: Danielle Mages-Amato 


The Old Globe, one of the country’s leading Shakespeare theatres, will host a city-wide series of free humanities events to accompany the production of a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry VI in summer 2024. Titled Henry 6 to underscore its contemporary resonance, the play is a timely and timeless portrayal of political disarray and illegitimacy that illuminates how debates over political legitimacy, civil unrest, and the machinations of the elite impact the lives of everyday people. To explore the relevance of this classic in our time, The Old Globe will host scholar and artist discussion panels, exhibitions, a film series, and community education workshops from January 9 to September 15, 2024. San Diegans will learn about the development of Henry 6 and understand the process of interpreting the original text from the perspective of scholars, artists, dramaturgs, stage designers, costumers, directors, and their fellow community members in San Diego and around the world. With partners to include the San Diego Public Library, San Diego State University, the University of California at San Diego, and the University of San Diego, Shakespeare for All will truly bring Shakespeare to all regions of San Diego and reach an estimated 65,000 people. 


Yuba-Sutter Black History 
Sutter County Museum, Yuba City 
Project Director: Molly Bloom 


Working in collaboration with community members, culture bearers, and local historians, staff at the Sutter County Museum will research, develop, design, and install a permanent interpretive exhibit about Black history within Yuba and Sutter counties, which will open February 2024. Drawing on findings, stories, and artifacts that have already been uncovered through an extensive research process, the Sutter County Museum will develop a series of public programs to complement the new exhibit, including lectures, panel discussions, an opening reception, educational tours for elementary school students, and curriculum guides for educators. “Yuba-Sutter Black History” will highlight the long-standing but little-known history of African Americans within the Yuba-Sutter region, provide an opportunity for Black residents to share their stories and experiences with other community members, and present a more inclusive and accurate representation of regional history to benefit everyone.  

The California Humanities’ Project Grant program, a branch of our Humanities for All competitive grant program, provides funding twice a year for public humanities projects of up to two years duration from the award date. Launched in 2016, the program has made 138 awards, totaling over $2.5 million. Learn more about the Humanities for All Grant Program here.  


California Humanities, a statewide nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, promotes the humanities—focused on ideas, conversation, and learning—as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect people to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975. To learn more, visit, or like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

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Boy enthusiastically bangs a taiko drum in front of a crowd on a street.
Photo: Humanities for All Project Grantee, Bringing it Home Humanities: Learning through Japantown Immersive. Photo courtesy of San Jose Taiko

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