LEH Humanities Awards

Each year since 1985 the LEH has honored individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the humanities. Past awardees include novelists, historians, filmmakers, photographers, poets, singer-songwriters, folklorists, educators, librarians, philanthropists, editors, archivists, and preservationists as well as a host of lifelong humanities advocates from both the private and public sectors.

This year’s Humanities Award recipients will be honored during the Bright Lights Awards Dinner on Thursday, May 7, 2020, in New Orleans. Tickets to the awards dinner are $150 per person with tables available for $1,500 ($2,500 sponsorship level) per table of ten. Full ticket and program details will be announced at a later date.

Photo by Henry Adebonojo

2020 Humanities Awards Winners 

Humanist of the Year
Awarded for an individual’s invaluable, lasting, and recognized contributions to Louisiana’s cultural landscape. 

Terence Blanchard
New Orleans, Louisiana

Chair’s Award for Institutional Support
Awarded in recognition of significant financial or programmatic support of the LEH’s mission and programs. 

Walton Family Foundation
headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas

Champion of Culture
Awarded to individuals or organizations that have made a lasting mark through their support and promotion of Louisiana’s cultural resources.

LSU Press
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Humanities Book of the Year
Awarded to the book that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana writers.

Solitary: My Story of Transformation and Hope by Albert Woodfox; published by Grove Press
New Orleans, Louisiana

Humanities Documentary Film of the Year
Awarded to the documentary film that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana documentary filmmakers.

Mossville: When Great Trees Fall
Directed by Alexander Glustron; produced by Daniel Bennett, Katie Mathews, and Catherine Rierson

Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities
Honors citizens who have supported and been involved in public appreciation of issues central to the humanities.

Bertney and Linda Langley
Elton, Louisiana


Warren Perrin
Erath, Louisiana

Light Up for Literacy
Honors individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to literacy efforts in the state. This award is presented in partnership with the State Library of Louisiana’s Center for the Book.

Dr. Lynn Clark
Monroe, Louisiana

Michael P. Smith Documentary Photography
Honors documentary photographers whose subject matter exemplifies Louisiana topics and aesthetics.

Charles M. Lovell
New Orleans, Louisiana

Museum Exhibition of the Year
Recognizes an exhibition held during the prior calendar year that brought new insights to our understanding of the state, its artists, and/or its history.

per(SISTER): Incarcerated Women of Louisiana by Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane
New Orleans, Louisiana

Humanities Awards Selection 

The LEH seeks public nominations for six of the Humanities Awards—Humanities Book of the Year, Documentary Film of the Year, Museum Exhibition of the Year, Light Up for Literacy, the Michael P. Smith Award for Documentary Photography and Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities. Each award is selected by a special committee made up of local experts in the field and LEH staff and board members. The Humanist of the Year, Champion of Culture and Chair’s Award for Institutional Support are nominated and chosen in-house by members of the LEH board of directors.