Equity—the principle at the heart of the humanities—is a steadfast commitment, constantly developing and evolving, and never “done.” To honor the centrality of equity, in late 2017, California Humanities began an ongoing equity alignment initiative that, among other things, resulted in the 2020 release of its first Equity Values Statement.

The statement emphasizes California Humanities’ continued commitment to dismantling structural barriers surrounding, but not limited to race, ethnicity, ability, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, language, citizenship, economic status, and geography.

The Equity Values Statement, shares California Humanities President and CEO Julie Fry, endeavors “to build on our past efforts in supporting, sharing, and respecting stories and voices from across the state through the public humanities.”

As part of its equity work, California Humanities focuses on “deepening personal and interpersonal awareness of history, culture, unconscious bias, structural inequity, and increased compassion and empathy within California Humanities,” and “developing clarity about implications for key functional areas in the organization such as governance, staffing and retention, operations, organizational culture, communications, partnership, and grantmaking,” said Fry.

California Humanities has a long history of striving for equity, and it remains a guiding principle of ours. We recognize that marginalized people have been actively excluded from being seen, heard, and valued in the story of California through institutional as well as social and cultural oppression. The humanities, from academic disciplines to family traditions and community practices, can help to amplify everyone’s voice.

The Equity Values Statement highlights the central role of the humanities in spotlighting marginalized perspectives across California and in creating more inclusive narratives about our state’s past, present, and future.

“Because we are a part of this unique state of many stories, cultures, and people,” the statement notes, “California Humanities seeks to foster the cultural life of California to create a more thoughtful, open, and just state.”