Spotlight: Mass Humanities Talks About The Vote 2020

Every four years, the national conversation around elections takes on an added intensity. 2020 is no different, and in the midst of discussions about voter suppression, the census count, and a presidential election, the twin crises caused by COVID-19 and police violence against Black lives bring an increased sense of urgency and importance to this year’s vote. That’s why every community in the Commonwealth, especially the arts & cultural sector, must do their part to advocate for civic engagement.

At Mass Humanities, voting rights are a top priority with their campaign The Vote 2020: A Statewide Conversation About Voting. The idea started in 2019, as a way to commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted suffrage to women, while also acknowledging that the ensuing 100 years were marked with struggles for voting rights for Black Americans, Indigenous peoples, and other marginalized communities. Mass Humanities awarded grants to 17 organizations across the Commonwealth for  projects designed to educate and discuss the past, present, and future of voting rights. The goal of Mass Humanities The Vote 2020: A Statewide Conversation About Voting is to keep the importance of voting, and the long history of the fight for the right to do so, at the forefront of the conversation this election year. 


Even a cursory glance at the list of projects reveals the wide range of discussions and issues that a topic like voting brings about. Take for example, the exceedingly relevant “Why Vote? Hat and Heels High Tea”* organized by the North Shore Juneteenth Association, which will feature a lecture and discussion led by Civil Rights leader Rodney Hurst and legal scholar David Harris. Primary Source’s project, “Our Rights & Nothing Less: Struggles to Secure the Vote in the United States”, aims at better equipping K-12 social studies teachers to educate their students on the history of the struggle for enfranchisement in our nation. In the wake of COVID-19, Forbes Library in Northampton has adapted their panel series “The Right to Vote: Past, Present, Future” for the digital sphere, with their next discussion about the Civil Rights movement happening on Wednesday, July 15. These are but a few examples of the ways humanities organizations are dedicating themselves to civic engagement, and encouraging their community to join them having critical conversations about one of our country’s most hard-fought rights.


The issues of voting and elections do not live solely within the realm of political science, and the deep cultural ties that the humanities work to help flourish are essential in engaging these issues with the public. We think of our role at MASSCreative and our #CreateTheVote campaign– how can we use the tools, resources, and ideas of the creative community to better share and educate the necessity of voting with others? The work of Mass Humanities and The Vote 2020 is the kind of work we’re proud to acknowledge and support, harnessing the unique powers of their community to emphasize the importance of the right to vote. We applaud Mass Humanities and the 17 organizations who have joined this vital effort, and eagerly look forward to the world we all seek to create, where the right to vote is uncontested and given to all Americans.

*Event has been postponed until COVID-19 safety precautions permit.

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