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Letter: Don’t cut humanities funding

The proposed federal budget calls for elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities — and in turn, the Michigan Humanities Council. With one decision, 50 years of essential federal-state-local partnerships in Michigan and throughout the nation and its territories will cease — and along with it will go the benefits provided through humanities-based programming.

But our schools need the work of the endowment and the council to teach tomorrow’s generation of leaders. Our communities need the work of the endowment and the council to create understanding and tolerance among their residents, and our nation and our world need the humanities so we never forget the human stories that serve as the basis for all foundations.

Your town’s library reading program. Understanding the Native American boarding-school tragedy. The discussion with veterans about post-traumatic stress disorder. The special arts program at the third grade classroom. Reviewing the effects of poverty on our culture. These are just a few examples of quality cultural programs sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council, of which the National Endowment for the Humanities is a strong supporter.

Through the work of the Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan families discovered special common ground in what is often viewed as a fragmented society. Our residents found gathering spaces in our state’s libraries, museums, living room book clubs, book stores, coffee houses and other neighborhood places.

Our children built their confidence levels through poetry competitions, by learning to read better, by exploring and savoring their family’s unique history, or through inspiration from a speaker who opened their eyes to a new world. They gathered as students, as grandchildren, as volunteers.

Through humanities programming, we all develop an increased awareness of what it takes to achieve our goals and dreams in a competitive global economy.

Through 1,053 events last year supported by the Michigan Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Michiganians got to know their neighbors better and gained a richer understanding of themselves as well.

The 22 volunteer members of the board of the Michigan Council for Humanities urge you to reach out to your federal elected officials and strongly encourage them to NOT allow the people of our nation to lose the benefits the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Michigan Humanities Council provide statewide. Imagine the impact of losing this vital resource. It will be our children and our grandchildren who lose the most. As tomorrow’s leaders, workers, teachers and technicians, they need these lessons of life more than ever before.

Kathleen Mullins, Ph.D., board chairwoman,

Michigan Humanities Council

Paul C. Chaffee LLC, advocacy committee

chairman, Michigan Humanities Council