COVID-19 precautions and policies are in place to ensure the health and safety of our campus community. Information can be found on our main COVID-19 page

Humanities 2020 Mellon Foundation Grant


We are delighted to host the first ever Humanities 2020 week at Lake Forest College September 12 - September 17.

Join the Humanities 2020 Mellon Grant for a week of events engaging racism through three primary streams: the built environment, storytelling, and incarceration and displacement.

Founders Statue and DuSable in Chicago History

Founders, 2019, polyester blend fabric, dye sublimation, air blowers, hardware,  25’x35’x34’  

Founders is a mobile monument and collaboration between Floating Museum, Chris Pappan (Kanza/Osage, Lakota) and Monica Rickert-Bolter (Potawatomi/African-American/German).  

The inflatable sculpture features four busts facing the four cardinal directions. The form is a mix of interpretations of items from the collections of the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Field Museum of Natural History, as well as interpretations of various historical figures. 

The busts reference Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (Chicago’s first non-indigenous settler), Kitihawa (du Sable’s Potawatomi wife), Harold Washington (first African American Mayor of Chicago), and a bust of a young boy by artist William Artis.  

The pattern on the inflatable monument was inspired by Potawatomi textiles in the Field Museum collections. 

The sculpture is part of a series by Floating Museum highlighting historical figures that elevate the stories of indigenous people and people of color, honoring the often-overlooked roles they’ve had in shaping our contemporary world.  

  • Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (Chicago’s first non-indigenous settler) 
    • “His legacy is important because it reminds us of the Black and Indigenous roots of Chicago,” said Dr. Courtney Joseph. 
    • Born to a French father and an enslaved African mother in St. Marc, St. Domingue (present-day Haiti) around 1745 
    • By 1778, DuSable had established himself in the area that would become Chicago and, in that year, married Kitihawa, a Potawatomi woman also known as Catherine.  
    • The pair settled by a place the Potawatomi called Eschecagou, on the north bank of the Chicago River at its junction with Lake Michigan.  
    • Though DuSable wasn't the first trader to pass through the area, he was the first non-Native person to stay and establish a permanent post. His estate would eventually consist of a modest-sized home, a horse mill, a bake house, a dairy, a smokehouse, a poultry house, a workshop, a stable, and a barn.  
    • In May of 1800, DuSable sold all of his property in Chicago. He would eventually leave the area and move to Peoria, Illinois before retiring to St. Charles, Mississippi. He died on Aug. 28, 1818, in St. Charles. 
  • Kitihawa, Du Sable’s Potawatomi wife 
    • DuSable’s wife Kitihawa was key to building relationships between DuSable and the area's Indigenous communities. Through the marriage, DuSable became Potawatomi kin, further cementing a multicultural legacy 
    • Kithawa and DuSable have two children, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, Jr. and Suzanne. 
    • Kithawa managed the DuSable settlement from 1780 – 1784, while DuSable is incarcerated by the British under suspicion of being a spy.  
  • Harold Washington, first African American Mayor of Chicago
    • Mayor Harold Washington dedicated in 1988 the 3.5-acre land as DuSable Park, a critical piece of Chicago’s lakefront park system. 
    • DuSable Park is a three-and-a-half-acre undeveloped site situated where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan. A concrete and steel seawall currently forms the boundary with the water on three sides: on the north, with Ogden Slip, a public navigable waterway; on the south, with the Chicago River; and on the east with Lake Michigan. The western boundary is Lake Shore Drive.  
    • Read about the history of the park at 
  • Bust of a young boy by artist William Artis
    • Archival video of William Artis working on a sculpture from 
    • William Artis biography from The Johnson Collection 
  • Potawatomi textiles in the Field Museum collections 
    • The museum’s collection of hundreds of Potawatomi artifacts dates back to its founding in the late 1800s. Edward E. Ayer, the Field’s first president, donated the first Potawatomi piece in 1894 — a metal and bronze tomahawk pipe. The growth of the collection throughout the 20th century includes everything from intricately beaded moccasins and otter skin medicine bags to drumsticks and snowshoes. 
  • The Floating Museum 
    • Floating Museum is an arts collective that creates new models exploring relationships between art, community, architecture, and public institutions. Using site-responsive art, design, and programming we explore the potential in these relationships, considering the infrastructure, history, and aesthetics of a space.  Floating Museum is co-directed by Avery R Young, Andrew Schachman, Faheem Majeed and Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford. Video Link to Floating Museum six-minute video. 


Monday, September 12: Race, Diversity, and the Founding of a Global City

Founder Statue Installation (by the Floating Museum)

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Middle Campus Quad and Glen Rowan East Lawn


Race, Diversity, and the Founding of a Global City

4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Glen Rowan House lawn

Join us for the official unveiling of the Floating Museum’s 25-foot-tall inflatable traveling statue, Founder. President Jill Baren presents opening remarks with an interactive panel hosted by Professor Courtney Joseph.

Tuesday, September 13: Chicago and Wrongful Convictions

Beyond Incarceration - Legacy Barber College Field Trip

11 a.m.

Sponsored Field trip to Legacy Barber College to experience how the institution is providing career opportunities and community engagement to youths through the profession of barbering.


Chicago and Wrongful Convictions

7 p.m. at Calvin Duran Hall

Professor Stephanie Caparelli moderates an interactive panel session with Eric Blackmon, a Chicagoan wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison for murder, and his attorney from Northwestern University’s Innocence Project, Professor Swygert.

Watch the livestream

Wednesday, September 14: Snack Chat at the Statue

Snack Chat at the Statue: Engaging Racism in Chicagoland

 11:50 a.m. – 12:55 p.m. at the Middle Campus Statue Installation Site

Humanities 2020 grant faculty lead a lunchtime conversation about their research and grant projects on racism in the Chicagoland area. Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.  

Thursday, September 15: Saving the Unsaved Stories

Saving the Unsaved Stories: Doing Oral History in Chicago.

7 p.m. at Calvin Duran Hall

Professor County Joseph demonstrates the power of oral histories in a live oral history interview with the founder of the Haitian American Museum of Chicago, Elsie Hernandez.  

Friday, September 16: My City, My Impact

My City, My Impact

1pm at the Middle Campus Statue Installation Site

Description: Humanities 2020 week closing event led by Grant Director and Chair of Education Desmond Odugu to launch student-led collaborative outreach to engage with issues of racism in the Chicagoland area.

Lake Forest College’s Humanities 2020 is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant and works to enhance and advance humanities education through engagement with the issue of racism in the Chicagoland area. 

We approach racism through three primary lenses: storytelling, the built environment, and incarceration and displacement. The grant provides resources for community engagement through events, which are open to the College community and the wider public. Lake Forest College's partnership with this grant has been extended through the summer of 2023 in order to maximize the efficacy of our work.

humanities 2020 logo

Reteaching the history of racism: Humanities 2020 introduces summer institute for educators

A great shift in the way our culture understands and discusses racism is taking place. Lake Forest College’s Humanities 2020 Mellon Foundation Grant team is organizing a summer institute to enable cohorts of educators to get involved in these shifts.

Learn more

Past Events

Film Screening: Your Name is Juan Rivera

We are proud to present the local premier of Your Name is Juan Rivera, a documentary about the life of Juan Rivera, who was wrongly imprisoned in the Illinois Department of Corrections for 20 years.

Learn more

Program Streams

Racism in the Built Environment

Racism in the Built Environment

This stream undertakes programs and initiatives to improve instruction in K-12 and higher education, advance environmental justice, and highlight as well as support activism against racism in the built environment. Racism in the built environment manifests in residential segregation, educational disparities, opportunity gaps, and inequitable access to resources.

Racism and Storytelling

Racism and Storytelling

This program stream addresses the narratives, told and untold, through which racism is (re)presented throughout history. Faculty, students, and institutional grant partners explore, interrogate, and present stories of racism in formats including oral histories, architectural exhibits, artistic expressions and performances, and digital archives.

Racism, Incarceration, and Displacement

Racism, Incarceration, and Displacement

This stream includes initiatives that address the community impact of humanities education through the specific lens of mass incarceration. Mass incarceration is tied directly to the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, and its impact is intertwined with education, housing, civil rights, and drug legislation. Thus, this stream coordinates faculty and partner commitment to addressing the concrete impact of racism in the legal system.