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 Sample Moments Collection

Marian Anderson Sings at Lincoln Memorial
Denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color, Marian Anderson was permitted to perform at the Lincoln Memorial by Harold Ickes at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Robert Kennedy quotes Aeschylus in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The night of April 4, 1968, presidential candidate Robert Kennedy received the news that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. Kennedy was about to speak in Indianapolis and some in his campaign wondered if they should go ahead with the…

Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s “The Message”
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, a hip-hop group from the South Bronx in New York City, released a single on Sugar Hill Records in 1982 titled “The Message.”

The Faces of Cézanne’s <em>The Bathers</em>
When I first encountered Paul Cezanne's most famous painting, The Bathers, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art I was struck by the way the artist was able to depict subtle differences among the figures even though none of them have distinct…

Abigail Adams Stands Up for “Ladies”

(Abigail Adams, writing to her husband John - March 31, 1776)

"I long to hear that you have declared an independancy—and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the…

Sonia Sotomayor Finds Her Voice
When my hero, Sonia Sotomayor, arrived at Princeton in 1972, she was a quietly diligent student, but one whose working-class background, ethnicity, and gender set her apart from most of her classmates. Princeton had only recently begun admitting…

P.O.W. John Borling Shares Poetry in Code in the Hanoi Hilton
In the Hanoi Hilton, the place where the North Vietnamese imprisoned and often tortured American captives during the Vietnam War, the US prisoners used a tapping code to communicate with one another. But they didn’t just send conversational…

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking
This short poem by Emily Dickinson (a mere six lines), describes how service to others, even in the smallest of ways, can give a life purpose and meaning.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one…

“What, to the Slave, is your 4th of July?”
In the speech from which this excerpt is taken, Frederick Douglass delivered a powerful argument about the hypocrisy inherent in celebrating America’s founding while continuing to allow slavery. As he notes, “What, to the American slave, is your…

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