As the summer comes to a close, so too does my time with the Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF) board. I’ve been so lucky and proud to be a member of this organization, especially as we have committed to becoming a transformative entity where Alabama’s stories can be shared in all 67 counties. Our board encompasses professionals from academia, business, community outreach, legal entities, and many facets of the geographic and political spectrum. We sometimes disagree, and we don’t always do so quietly, but we always do so respectfully, with empathy, knowing the very goal of our organization is to understand what makes us all human, despite the appearance of immediate or superficial differences.
Five years doesn’t sound like a long time, but it has been half a decade filled with an evolving staff with the skills, passion and expertise to put into practice the strategic goals our board continues to define. We are not content with being a somewhat familiar sounding name. We want to provide meaningful experiences for our supporters and to encourage new audiences, and to continue to find ways to bring free programs to inner city children, rural Alabamians, veterans, and anyone who wishes to spend an hour or two learning about the history of our artisans, the collaborations of our teachers and students, and the future of our cultural innovators.
I’m leaving this board, and also tearfully leaving my adopted hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, the most hospitable place that has ever wrapped its arms around me. Alabama has treated me like family since my first day in Birmingham, let me open an independent bookstore, cast me as Miss Maudie and my dear son as Dill, taught my children how to behave, and instilled an insatiable appetite for pimiento cheese. AHF has cheered me all the way, and I hope I’ve returned half the enthusiasm and affection I have so richly received. I may be leaving Alabama, but I am taking all these authentic stories and friendships with me. They have become part of me, and will remain, wherever I go.