Humanities Moments
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How MTV Helped End Apartheid

Patrick Touart, born 1973, public school teacher, Pittsylvania County Virginia

I first discovered what being a global citizen meant when I was just thirteen and a part of the MTV Generation. MTV debuted in 1981, but in rural Virginia I didn’t get my MTV until 1986. It was the era of the super group. The famine relief charity, Band Aid, had surprised everyone with the hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” That was followed with the…
Preparing for the North Carolina Symphony's visit

Hearing an Orchestra for the First Time

Charles Frazier, award-winning author of Cold Mountain, Varina, and other novels

Charles Frazier recalls when the North Carolina Symphony traveled to the small towns of western NC on their annual state tour. The symphony’s visit to the rural and relatively isolated communities exposed Frazier and his classmates to a bold new type of sound—and a new way of thinking about art.
The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show

The Musical Awakening of Steven Van Zandt

Steven Van Zandt, musician (E Street Band), actor (The Sopranos), and founder of Rock & Roll Forever Foundation

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles’ group appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show electrified the nation. Four months later, a young Steven Van Zandt had an “epiphany” while watching The Hollywood Palace, another variety show. That night, singer Dean Martin hosted—and then teased—The Rolling Stones, representing a generational shift. The past met the…
Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman Monument - Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi

Statues and the Shapeshifting of History

Julia Nguyen, historian and grant-maker

As a young girl visiting Vicksburg, Mississippi, Julia Nguyen encountered a Civil War statue. It altered not only the way she understands history, but the way she thinks about that very concept.
Ebony Fashion Fair designer fashions, NCMA

Haute Couture: Fashion Fair and the Empowerment of the Black Community

Olympia Friday, Social Media & Strategic Marketing Coordinator, National Humanities Center

I recall flipping through Ebony magazine as a child in the 80s and often seeing pictures of Fashion Fair models. It didn’t dawn on me then how the power of fashion was being used to inspire an entire community. After seeing “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” at the North Carolina Museum of Art, it became clear to me. I developed a…

About Humanities Moments

The humanities are everywhere — so deeply woven into our daily lives that we often miss them. Sometimes, though, the humanities can surprise you. A book you can’t put down. A photograph that haunts you. A song you can’t get out of your head. And from that moment on, you find yourself changed. The Humanities Moments Project was created to collect personal stories about encounters with the humanities. The stories on this site are presented as submitted, capturing the experiences of those who've shared them in their own words — reflecting their individual views, interpretations, and conclusions. Together, they highlight the diverse and powerful ways the humanities are able to teach, inspire, and enrich our lives.

The humanities are everywhere. But they are so interwoven into our daily lives that we often miss them. Sometimes, though, they surprise you. A book you can’t put down. A photograph that haunts you. A song you can’t get out of your head. The Humanities Moments Project was created to collect stories about how the humanities touch us, inspire us, and enrich our lives.

Read More About the Project

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