Since 1985, the LEH has honored Louisianans who have made outstanding contributions to the study and understanding of the humanities.
The “humanities,” as defined by Congress, include the study of literature, history, philosophy, modern and classical languages, linguistics, archaeology, jurisprudence, art history and criticism, ethics, comparative religion, and those disciplines of the social sciences employing historical or philosophical approaches such as cultural anthropology or social theory.
Humanist of the Year
Awarded for an individual’s invaluable, lasting, and recognized contributions to Louisiana’s cultural landscape.
2019 Awardee — Darrell Bourque served as Louisiana’s second peer-selected poet laureate from 2007–2011, first appointed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco and then reappointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. A native of Church Point in Acadia Parish, he earned a BA and MA in English at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) and a PhD in English from Florida State University. He returned to USL as a professor, later serving as department head and director of creative writing, and has published twelve books of poetry, the most recent of which is if you abandon me, comment je vais faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook (2014). Bourque is also one of the founding members of Narrative 4, an international story exchange project that works to bring about social change by cultivating radical empathy in its participants.
Champion of Culture
Awarded to individuals or organizations that have made a lasting mark through their support and promotion of Louisiana’s cultural resources.
2019 Awardee — Gregory Kallenberg is the founder of the Louisiana Film Prize, a narrative film contest with a grand prize of $50,000—the largest short film prize in the world. Competing films must be shot in Northwest Louisiana, helping to grow the state’s film industry. The festival has led to the addition of the Music Prize and the Food Prize, all of which take place during Shreveport’s annual Prize Week.
Chair’s Award for Institutional Support
Recognizes citizens for significant financial or programmatic support of the LEH’s mission and programs.
2019 Awardee — Dorothy Hanna, Rod Olson, and Mattie Olson are leading examples of how anyone of any means can have a lasting impact on the cultural landscape. A music teacher in Vinton for more than thirty years, Hanna, working in collaboration with her niece Mattie Olson and Mattie’s husband and LEH Board Member Rod Olson, made a significant gift to the LEH that facilitated the rebrand and relaunch of Louisiana Cultural Vistas and KnowLouisiana.org into the 64 Parishes brand. Hanna’s gift will also support the creation of teacher materials that focus on bringing the study of Louisiana’s musical legends into K-12 classrooms.
Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities
Honors citizens who have supported and been involved in public appreciation of issues central to the humanities.
2019 Awardee — Dr. Hiram F. “Pete” Gregory has spent his career working alongside American Indian groups based in and around Louisiana. In addition to teaching full-time at Northwestern State University for 55+ years, he is also the academic advisor of the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center and the curator for NSU’s Williamson Museum, which houses a collection of over 100,000 artifacts, including arts and crafts from 41 different tribes of the southeastern United States. In 2016, Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development recognized him as Louisiana’s Archaeologist of the Year.
Michael P. Smith Award for Documentary Photography
Honors documentary photographers whose subject matter exemplifies Louisiana topics and aesthetics. Nominations may be for a complete body of work or for a single project.
2019 Awardee — Frank Relle is a photographer living in New Orleans who is well known for his long-exposure night photography of the city, swamps, and bayous. His work is included in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana State Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Humanities Documentary Film of the Year
Awarded to the documentary film that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana documentary filmmakers.
2019 Awardee — Directed by Cameron Washington, A Man and His Trumpet: The Leroy Jones Story follows the legendary New Orleans trumpeter from his time as a 12-year-old in Danny Barker’s band to his stint with Harry Connick Jr. and beyond. Featuring interviews with Terence Blanchard, Herlin Riley, Connick, and others, A Man and His Trumpet shares with a wider audience what the greats have known all along: Leroy Jones possesses a sound unlike any other.
Humanities Book of the Year
Awarded to the book that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana writers.
2019 Awardee — A Cajun Girl’s Sharecropping Years, authored by Viola Fontenot and published by the University Press of Mississippi, follows Fontenot’s life as the daughter of a sharecropper in Church Point. Reliving various aspects of rural Cajun life, such as house chores, boucheries, fais do-do, and the classroom mantra of “I will not speak French on the school grounds anymore,” Fontenot brings a female perspective to a previously male-dominated understanding of sharecropping culture.
Light Up for Literacy Award
Honors individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions to literacy efforts in the state. The award is presented in partnership with the State Library of Louisiana’s Center for the Book.
2019 Awardee — This award is presented in partnership with the State Library of Louisiana’s Center for the Book. Dr. Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell is the Cecil “Pete” Taylor Endowed Professor of Literacy and Urban Education at Louisiana State University. She is the author of several articles and books, the most recent of which is The Literacy Leadership Guide for Elementary Principals: Reclaiming Teacher Autonomy and Joy (2018). Post-Katrina, Sulentic Dowell created a service-learning project for pre-service teachers that led to the creation of classroom libraries for schoolchildren in New Orleans East.
Museum Exhibition of the Year
Recognizes an exhibition held during the prior calendar year (2018) that brought new insights to our understanding of the state, its artists, and/or its history.
2019 Awardee — Changing Course: Reflections on New Orleans Histories, an exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art, commemorated the New Orleans Tricentennial by focusing on the stories that don’t often get celebrated. Katrina Andry, Willie Birch, Lesley Dill, L. Kasimu Harris, Skylar Fein, the Everyday Projects, and Propeller Group each contributed art projects that focused on forgotten, emerging, or marginalized histories, encouraging visitors to think about evolution and change.
Bright Lights Awards Dinner
Join the LEH and Master of Ceremonies Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser for the 2019 Bright Lights Awards Dinner hosted at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Student Union on Thursday, April 4, at 6 p.m.
Tickets begin at $150. Table sponsorships are available to interested parties. For more information, contact Mike Bourg at (504) 620-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.