The North Shore Juneteenth Association in Lynn (NSJA) recently received a $3,000 grant from Mass Humanities as part of a statewide celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.
The $3,000 grant to NSJA will fund a special event “Why Vote? Hat and Heels High Tea,” a lecture and discussion event with Civil Rights activist and author Rodney Hurst and legal scholar David Harris at the Lynn Museum.
On Tuesday, Feb. 25, a reception at the State House will recognize NSJA and 16 other organizations receiving grants through “The Vote,” a statewide initiative supported by Mass Humanities.
To commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage, Mass Humanities challenged humanities organizations like the NSJA to consider the wider, complicated story of voting in America. The initiative began in June 2019 when Mass Humanities announced two rounds of funding for projects that used the humanities to explore the issue of voting rights. NSJA and organizations around the state responded with ideas ranging from teacher professional development workshops to film screenings to new exhibitions. Mass Humanities awarded a total of $148,000 in grants. Support from private donors made the grants possible, along with Mass Humanities annual funding from Mass Cultural Council.
NSJA, founded in 2017, began the celebration of the Juneteenth holiday in the area. This holiday commemorates the ending of slavery in the U. S. Celebrating the holiday gives the community a chance to learn about the positive contributions African Americans have made to society.
Celebrated each year on June 19 the NSJA also raises the Juneteenth Flag in Lynn to raise awareness of the holiday and the African American community. The group also hosts the Our Black Excellence 5k that includes positive images of African Americans along the route to educate participants as they walk or run.
Programming also introduces and educates our community on Black American culture and issues faced by Black Americans.
The grant to the NSJA is part of more than $700,000 that will be awarded in 2020 by Mass Humanities. The organization is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and receives funding from the Mass Cultural Council.
According to Mass Humanities Executive Director Brian Boyles, the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote has sparked new efforts to understand the history of voting rights in communities across Massachusetts.
By viewing the story of voting in America through the lens of the humanities, Boyles noted, NSJA and the other organizations participating in “The Vote” will provide multiple opportunities for residents to engage with history and their neighbors.
“The story of voting in this country is complicated, and we think that’s a good thing,” said Boyles. “In a climate of increased polarization, the humanities force us to see the many sides to this essential issue. We applaud these organizations for embracing the centennial of the 19th Amendment to explore the struggles of women and many other groups to secure access to the ballot box.”