Do you remember when you first realized the power of history?
31 Dec 2017
~Robert Penn Warren
A group of eight intellectually-curious students from Dugan-Tarango Middle School in Lordsburg do. Last July, these young scholars sent us a note telling us how much they learned from competing in the award-winning National History Day (NHD) contest, sponsored in the Land of Enchantment by the New Mexico Humanities Council.
Months earlier, these budding historians had returned to Lordsburg at the head of a victory parade, after winning first place in the state NHD contest. “Five miles from town,” recounted their teacher, “two police units escorted us into Lordsburg. When we got off the Interstate, we saw a huge bunch of vehicles honking and flashing their lights. Two fire engines (lights flashing and sirens wailing) pulled in front of our bus and everyone paraded behind us all the way to our school. The students … were in awe, laughing, crying.” Now the students had returned home a second time, after taking part in the national competition in Washington, DC. The once-in-a-lifetime chance to explain their hard work on projects about Muhammad Ali and the Salem Witch Trial to nationally-certified judges was only matched by first-time visits to the White House, Ford's Theatre, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and dozens of other significant sites. The culmination of months of research, writing, and pre-performance practices, the capstone experience in Washington was, in the words of one Lordsburg student, “amazing.”
This story makes us proud to be a part of the New Mexico Humanities Council. NMHC has invested deeply in NHD and our other programs because we believe in bringing the best in cultural programming to you and other New Mexicans. As the organization’s new Executive Director and Chair of the Board of Directors, we’re reaching out to you now to tell you how much we need your help to continue our mission.
With public funding for the humanities and arts being called into question, cultural programs with observable impacts like New Mexico’s National History Day will not be able to operate as they have in the past without the generous financial support of friends and supporters. This year, the President’s budget blueprint called for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, NMHC’s federal partner and funder, notwithstanding the agency’s per capita cost coming out at barely more than a postage stamp. And just this year, despite bipartisan efforts by legislators in the New Mexico House and Senate, the governor vetoed funding for the NHD program, meaning that NMHC is now more dependent than ever on the goodwill of everyday New Mexicans to help us make this program and our other offerings—Chautauqua, grants, and still undeveloped new initiatives—available to the entire state.
Please join us in helping preserve and interpret our human heritage as we share our work. As always, your gift to the Council is tax-deductible.
Brandon Johnson, Executive Director
Doris Fields, Chair, Board of Directors
PS: More than ever, we need your support to make sure the humanities stay alive in New Mexico. Make a gift on-line by clicking the "Donate" button below.