Statement & Commitment from Humanities Tennessee


Like you, at Humanities Tennessee we are reeling from the events of the past few weeks, as well as the past three months. The intensity of social injustices, climate and weather disasters, and the global COVID-19 pandemic is challenging us all in unimaginable ways.

These challenges are all interconnected, impacting communities of color disproportionately and with tragic consequences, as we have seen with our own eyes.

We believe Black Lives Matter.


Across Tennessee we have seen people come together in recent weeks and months, virtually and in person to:

  • peacefully protest in support of Black Lives Matter
  • support first responders managing the COVID-19 crisis
  • aid neighbors and family whose health is already compromised
  • encourage students, teachers, and parents navigating uncertainty
  • clean up tornado and storm damage from Nashville to Carthage to Chattanooga


Why do we do this for each other?

Because we recognize the inherent value of every human being.

The inherent worth and dignity of all people is a foundational tenet of the humanities. That is why we believe the humanities has an important role during this time, and in the months and years ahead. The humanities can help us understand ourselves and each other better.

When we do that work as individuals, then we may advance to the work of systemic change in our institutions and culture.

More than fifty years after they were first published, Dr. King’s words continue to demand close attention: “A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.”

As an institution, Humanities Tennessee commits to this moment of listening to the voices in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities – and around our nation. We commit to a fuller consideration of what we have missed, of what we thought we understood about the history that divides us and the ongoing struggles for power and ownership of community.

At Humanities Tennessee, our mission is to foster community and civility in Tennessee through public programs that examine and reflect upon ideas, stories, history, arts, and culture. We are committed to critical thought and reflection, a culture of inclusion and diversity, careful consideration of the programs we offer, and how Tennessee communities – particularly those of people of color – are part of our programs from the ground up.

“Like many institutions, Humanities Tennessee is looking for more effective ways to serve people. We believe in learning from the past, through stories, history, and art, to learn about our culture and what makes us a community. And the way to do that is to share, to listen, and to reflect.” – Lynn Alexander, Chair, Humanities Tennessee Board of Directors.

Moving forward, Humanities Tennessee commits to programming that can impact systemic change. We will ensure inclusion of the voices, stories, perspectives, and cultures of underrepresented communities necessary to bring about that change. We will remain open to learning about our implicit biases and strive to become aware of unheard voices impacted by injustice.

In the spirit of what history has taught us, Humanities Tennessee is committed to making a meaningful difference in this moment and to contributing to the story of our shared experience in the years to come.

Resources Our Commitment