By Robbe Charles DiPietro and Joseph Stanhope Cialdella
In the spring of 2014, the Michigan Humanities (MH) embarked on a challenging, three-year journey to help organizations in our state examine difficult histories of race, ethnicity, and cultural identity. We wanted to support organizations’ efforts to connect those histories to the present and to share and validate the experiences of communities across Michigan. In 2015 and 2016 the resultant program—“Heritage Grants: Exploring the History of All Michigan’s People” (hereafter referred to as the Heritage Grants Program)—provided grants of up to $25,000 and capacity-building support to fifty-four local history organizations to support the implementation of these kinds of projects. Across the state, the Heritage Grants Program established connections between history and present-day issues, between elders and youth, between public and academic audiences, and between old narratives and new stories. This effort also nurtured a network of new collaborations and partnerships dedicated to using the humanities and history to advance racial equity.