2016 Humanities Awards

Each year, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities honors Louisianians who have made outstanding contributions to the study and understanding of the humanities. Individuals, institutions or organizations may submit nominations. Individuals, however, may not nominate themselves. Letters of nomination should not exceed two pages and should detail specific accomplishments that qualify the nominee for the award. A vita and other letters of support should accompany the letter of nomination.

View photos from the event!




Zachary Richard. Photo by Philip Gould

Zachary Richard. Photo by Philip Gould

2016 Humanist of the Year Award
The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and Consulate General of France in Louisiana Gregor Trumel, honored musician, poet, and activist Zachary Richard as its 2016 Humanist of the Year in New Orleans on April 7, 2016 at the Marigny Opera House in New Orleans. The award is given annually by the LEH as part of its efforts to recognize the individuals and organizations making invaluable contributions to the culture of Louisiana.

A native of Scott, in Lafayette Parish, Zachary Richard is a world-renowned singer-songwriter, poet, documentary film producer, cultural activist, and environmentalist. In a career that has spanned more than four decades and has seen him write, perform, and record in both English and French, Richard has released more than twenty albums, including multiplatinum and gold records. He has authored four collections of poetry, in addition to a series of children’s books.

The LEH also honored:

Chair’s Institutional Award
Baptist Community Ministries (BCM). BCM’s commitment to the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities has grown significantly over the years, totaling more than a half million dollars. This year BCM awarded the LEH a three-year $350,000 grant for its PRIME TIME Preschool program.

Champion of Culture Award
David Kerstein, president and chief executive officer of Helis Oil & Gas. Under his direction, Helis has undertaken a deliberate, well thought-out and prolonged strategy for supporting public art with demonstrable success in New Orleans’ museums, streets, and institutions.

Humanities Books Award
The LEH recognizes two outstanding works of history as 2016 Books of the Year. Beyond Freedom’s Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery, by Adam Rothman, the extraordinary tale of an enslaved woman’s struggle to endure the consequences of the Civil War. Poverty Point: Revealing the Forgotten City, by Jenny Ellerbe and Diana M. Greenlee, sheds new light on Louisiana’s UNESCO World Heritage site.

Humanities Documentary Film Award
Shape of Shreveport, directed by Chris Charles Scott and produced by Jim and Will Broyles, is a four-part documentary series exploring fascinating episodes in the history of Shreveport, from plane crashes to Elvis Presley to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography
David Spielman is a New Orleans-based photographer whose published works include Southern Writers (1997); Katrinaville Chronicles: Images and Observations from a New Orleans Photographer (2007); When Not Performing: New Orleans Musicians (2012); and The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City.

Light Up for Literacy Award
Given in partnership with the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana and the Library of Congress, the Light Up for Literacy Award goes to Herreast Harrison. Harrison is Program Director of the Guardian Institute, a Ninth Ward community organization established in 1988 that promotes education and local cultural traditions.

Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities
Since 1985 Beth Courtney has been president of Louisiana Public Broadcasting, a public television network with affiliates in Lake Charles, Alexandria, Shreveport, Monroe, and Lafayette. Under her direction, LPB has produced award-winning documentaries, celebrated programs focused on Louisiana politics, and instituted new digital initiatives to preserve Louisiana history.

Distinguished Board Service
The LEH will recognize four outstanding board members for their service to the organization: Cleland Powell, III, Glenda Erwin, Henry Lacey and Lewis McHenry.




View a list of awardees since 1985

For more information on the Humanities Awards,
contact Brian Boyles at boyles@leh.org or 504.620.2632.