Illinois Humanities Council

Programming, Events, and Grantmaking

Grantee Cohort Fall 2019, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

Location Illinois

Illinois Humanities (IH) works to build dialogue across all sectors of society to examine issues important to democracy in the areas of public policy, media and journalism, business, and art. Using the humanities as a tool to stimulate discussion, IH creates experiences across Illinois through programming, events, and grantmaking to engage a diverse public on ideas that matter.

With support from Art for Justice and In partnership with Illinois Humanities’Envisioning Justice” exhibit on incarceration in Illinois, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting hosted a half-day program to educate Pulitzer Center journalists and other leaders from Chicago institutions. To design the project, the Pulitzer Center called on the expertise of fellow Art for Justice partners Voice of the Experienced, Fair Sentencing of Youth and Youth Justice Fund. Illinois Humanities used the next grant for the next phase of its Envisioning Justice exhibition. The exhibition included establishing a fellowship or residency at Illinois Humanities to employ a person of color who has deep knowledge or experience with the mass incarceration system to support building more community partnerships across the state; supporting artist-led community organizing efforts that put formerly incarcerated and incarcerated people at the forefront; curating a listening tour and site visits that will help determine the next location for another interactive exhibition program; and developing a communication plan to disseminate Envisioning Justice’s curriculum across the state. With their next grant, Illinois Humanities expanded the Envisioning Justice program to engage more Illinoisans in conversation about the impact of mass incarceration, increase its event offerings and digital content, and develop the Activation Kit for people in Illinois (and beyond) to take action to address the impacts of mass incarceration in their own communities.

With their latest grant Illinois Humanities produced a dynamic digital program to uplift voices of folks across the country who are invested in ending mass incarceration. Co-curated and hosted by Baz Dreisinger, C.T. Mexica, Mahogany L. Browne and Tyra Patterson, the session illuminated how ongoing justice reform work can and must respond to a new era. Amid a global pandemic and the devastation of police violence, criminal legal reforms and abolitionist movements have gained incredible momentum. Regardless of election outcomes, those whose lives and careers are dedicated to the pursuit of justice will face new obstacles and opportunities.