OCH Wins CHCI Public Humanities Award - Oklahoma Center for the Humanities
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OCH Wins CHCI Public Humanities Award

Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of the inaugural CHCI Public Humanities Award for Leadership in Practice and Community.

Five mayors from All-Black Towns, gathered by the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities. Top (Left to Right): Mayor Leon Anderson, Grayson; Mayor Shawn Louie, Lima. Bottom (Left to Right): Mayor Mildred Burkhalter, Rentiesville; Mayor Francis Shelton, Boley; Mayor Keisha Currin, Tullahassee.

The Center was nominated for its Pathways to Freedom program. With grant support provided by the Social Sciences Research Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the yearlong initiative included three exhibits and conferences exploring the theme of freedom, which ran from summer 2022 to spring 2023. All aspects of the project were developed in close collaboration with BIPOC communities across the state.

In fall 2022, programming began with an exhibit and conference entitled “Musical Legacies of the Dust Bowl” which examined Black and indigenous musical innovation in the 1930s and 40s.

Starting the year in 2023, “All-Black Towns of Oklahoma” examined these historic towns, largely unique to Oklahoma, that took shape at the conjunction of the Great Migration and the initial burst of Black wealth generated by the state’s oil boom.

Tulsans attend Work of Sovereignty exhibit opening during the March 2023 First Friday Art Crawl.

The Center ended the year with “Work of Sovereignty” in spring 2023. In collaboration with representatives from the Cherokee and Chickasaw nations, this exhibit and conference used the lenses of law, art, and the humanities to examine the cultural impact on the 2020 Supreme Court ruling on tribal jurisdiction. Pathways to Freedom helped transform the OCH from a campus-based research organization into an engaged public humanities initiative.

OCH staff will be recognized for their work at the upcoming CHCI Annual Meeting at the University of California – Berkeley in May.

The Public Humanities Network of the CHCI represents a global community of centers and institutes engaged in building research through partnership. The network is interested in questions concerning the public humanities and civic and public collaborations that face many members in a wide range of institutional and national contexts. You can learn more by visiting the CHCI website.