Reflection, Reconciliation and Renewal

Alabama Humanities Foundation hosted delegates from all over the country on Nov. 7-9 for the 2013 National Humanities Conference. Participants attended sessions, programs and events about broadening their perspectives of  the mission of a humanities council. While in Birmingham, they also learned about the city’s pivotal role in the civil rights movement.

See below for highlights from the conference:

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The opening reception on Nov. 7 was held at Regions Park, home of the Birmingham Barons baseball team.

On Nov. 8, key figures in the Civil Rights Movement headlined an opening plenary session at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The speakers panel featured U.W. Clemon, former federal judge; Doug Jones, former U.S. Attorney; Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize winning author and Judge Helen Shores Lee, author and attorney. The panel was moderated by Odessa Woolfolk, nationally recognized educator, civil rights activist and pioneer. Watch a video of the plenary below:

On the evening of Nov. 8, participants attended the the Walter H. Capps Memorial Lecture at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Dr. Freeman Hrabowski delivered the lecture. Dr. Hrabowski, once a child-leader in the Civil Rights Movement, is now a prominent educator serving as the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The Closing Plenary on Nov. 9 featured Nikki Giovanni, a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator. An award-winning author of more than 30 books for both adults and children, Giovanni was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends” and has been called the “Princess of Black Poetry.” Her spoken word recordings have achieved widespread recognition and honors, including her “Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection,” which was one of five finalists for a Grammy award.

For decades, state humanities councils have made it their mission to bring people together, foster conversation and the exchange of ideas to broaden our perspectives — and Birmingham was perfect place to host the conference.

“We chose Birmingham as the site for the 2013 National Humanities Conference because it seemed unthinkable, in this very important anniversary year, to be anywhere else,” said Esther Mackintosh, president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils.  “Fifty years ago, events in Birmingham forever changed the course of Civil Rights in the United States.  It is a privilege to be able to gather in this city at this time to reflect on those events and on how we can draw on the humanities to help shape a future of equality and mutual responsibility.”

Alabama Humanities Foundation would like to thank Regions Bank, The University of Alabama and Ogletree Deakins Law Firm for sponsoring the 2013 conference.