Humanities Moments

Humanities Moments

We’ve all had “humanities moments” — when our lives were made richer, more poignant, and meaningful because of the insights the humanities provide.

Items in the California Humanities: “We Are the Humanities” Collection

Placing our family in the story of America
Actor John Cho shares how the humanities reveal answers to the most important questions in life. He notes his fondness of reading and how theLittle House on the Prairiebooks helped him as a youth process and understand his family’s place…

From Los Angeles to Guadalajara
Craig Watson, former director of the California Arts Council, reflects on the storytelling aspect of the humanities and the time he spent as a teenager in Guadalajara exploring public spaces painted with murals. He notes how people in the humanities…

Making the world bearable
Author and publisher Malcolm Margolin shares how the telling of stories helps shape and give meaning to the world. He also reflects on his time documenting American Indian life in the Bay Area and becoming captivated by the stories and histories from…

Learning how to read a poem
Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, reflects on her life growing up in New Mexico and how a low grade on a poetry analysis assignment in college encouraged her to master the craft of writing. She notes how her writing…

"Writing is my activism"
Luis Rodriguez, poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014, explains how his love for books and libraries rescued him from a life of trouble. He notes that through books, he discovered more about people and their lives, which encouraged his interest in…

Executive Order 9066
Actor, author, director, and activist George Takei recalls his family’s resilience and ability to find joy, beauty, and love in simple treasures while imprisoned in Japanese internment camps in the 1940s. He notes that the humanities remind us that…

Deciding not to be a doctor
Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, went to college expecting to become a doctor, but taking a course on religious ethics and moral issues shifted his direction. To him, the humanities allow us to be introspective and…

"The only person of color in the room"
At 95, Betty Reid Soskin is the oldest active U.S. Park Ranger. Having lived through wars, racial segregation, and other turbulent times in our history, she says empathy and world peace are possible through the humanities.To celebrate its 40th year…

The currency of emotional intelligence
Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye is the 28th Chief Justice of the State of California. She recalls her experiences as a student in a humanities class in college, her upbringing in a Filipino community of hardworking women eager to pass on their traditions, and…

Learning to sing stories
Juan Felipe Herrera, a performance artist, activist, and U.S. poet laureate in 2015, recalls how his third-grade teacher’s compliment on his singing voice led to his lifelong belief in using his voice to encourage the beauty in the voices, stories,…

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