President's Report

1. The Year That Is

We can only look back from where we stand: in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which in some way is affecting every single person on the planet. We at the Mellon Foundation have been working from our homes for over two months now, preparing this report from quarantine, with an indefinite stretch ahead of us, facing a grantee base—especially in arts and culture—that has been devastated, and a higher education system in crisis as yet unclear about how it can resume in-person instruction. And we work from the gut of the coronavirus outbreak, New York, which at the time of this writing has the highest number of cumulative confirmed cases and deaths in the United States since the start of the outbreak and the highest cumulative confirmed deaths per capita in the country.That is the chair we sit in and the window we look out of to consider the year behind us and the year ahead. We sit in uncertainty, as well as the certainty that this is a moment of epic challenge in human history.

01_WattsTowers.jpgSimon Rodia’s Watts Towers. Photo: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

But our Mellon work has more purpose now than ever before, I believe, because the areas we support contain some solutions to the profound human needs and conundrums the pandemic has laid bare. COVID-19 needs the very best scientists, medical researchers, and health care workers in clear and urgent ways. Our societies need social service infrastructure support for all that has frayed and fallen through safety nets which were in many cases already threadbare. We need brilliant social scientists who can tell us how systems work and don’t work, and reflect on social orders and social decay. We need governmental leadership to organize and execute services and recovery, and deliver the crucial, factual information the populace needs (and we see that governmental leadership in stark relief with a sometimes shocking range of variance). All of this necessary, urgent work lies outside the purview of what Mellon does and where our expertise resides. But the arts, humanities, and higher learning are also part of the solution and have crucial work to do to help us understand who we are, what we are going through, and what in the human spirit can illuminate and lift us. “One wants a Teller in a time like this,” wrote the poet Gwendolyn Brooks.2 We need tellers in all forms—writers, artists, dancers, archivists and librarians, scholars, public art makers—the people who will help us understand what happened to us and who we are, as we move through but also as we look back. The fields to which Mellon is devoted remind us who we are as human beings sharing the planet in communities, human beings drawn to each other and to the narratives that express our commonality, human beings who from time immemorial have raised their voices in song, human beings who make beauty from nothing and see that our lives are made of “starshine and clay,” to quote Lucille Clifton.3 We need creative futurists who can imagine, when nobody can imagine beyond the next week because the information is changing that fast and circumstances are dire and frightening. We need visioners whose tools are not data or evidence but rather the things they are able to discern at the spirit level and then express with the craft they have devotedly honed.

02_GettyImages-3065092.jpgGwendolyn Brooks, Chicago, 1960. Photo by Slim Aarons.

What if a literature professor were declared an essential worker because people believed that in literature we could understand people we do not know and our will to share our human condition with others? What if we could ensure that more and more people eager to learn could have access to what that literature professor had to offer? What does the literature of confinement have to teach us during quarantine, as well as the literature of utopia and futurism? What do ethics and philosophy teach us in this crisis? What does the history of medicine and science tell us about other pandemics? What do humanist social sciences tell us about how communities respond in times of want, the forces of greed and unequal power, but also the incredible power of community and the ways people come together?

With the inability now even to perform the rituals that are as ancient as history, to bury our dead, in accordance with our beliefs and our community values and practices, the need to bear witness is more acute than ever. Even the dead—of epochally great numbers, larger as I write than the United States losses during the Vietnam War—cannot be sent from this earthly plane to whatever follows. So we work with enhanced and focused intensity here at Mellon in the light of the opportunity to be helpful. Doing our work more squarely in our evolving strategic direction—the hard work I have been leading the last year—put us in a good position to make grants in this newly challenged era. We keep our own house at Mellon strong, ethical, rooted in values of equity that also guide our work, and in the belief that community matters.

You may remember Frederick, the little mouse from the children’s book of that name by Leo Lionni. Frederick gathered stories while his mouse companions harvested corn for the winter. In winter when it was cold and gray and the harvested food was scarce, it was Frederick who carried the community through with stories, invocation of the warmth and color of spring and summer that would shine the spirit light that would move them through the long, dark winter days. That book was published in 1967, in a time when the country was riven with civil rights struggles, the seemingly intractable war in Vietnam, and a changing society; the Mellon Foundation would soon be established.

Looking back, I see that Frederick was asking questions in a time of societal turmoil: Why do we need art? What is work? What is the role of the artist in community? What does she have to offer that is not of clear material value? What can we offer our people in seasons of want?

“Frederick, why don’t you work?” they asked.

“I do work,” said Frederick.

“I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days.”

And when they saw Frederick sitting there, staring at the meadow, they said, “And now, Frederick?”

“I gather colors,” answered Frederick simply, “for winter is gray.” 4

As Frederick spoke of the sun, the mice began to feel warmer. He was the poet of his community. The community needed what he brought, even if it might have seemed abstract and unpractical. We support the storytellers who tell us who we are, who we have been, and who illuminate so we can endure and see paths forward.

2. The Year That Was

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
I come again to see
the serene, great picture that I love.

“Monet’s ‘Waterlilies,’” Robert Hayden (1969)5

As we look ahead, we must also look back. The year 1969 was coda to a decade of transformation and turmoil. This tumultuous, violent, transformational era, known simply as “The Sixties,” contained powerful moments of unity alongside violence and unrest. And in New York City, on June 30, 1969, the children of financier Andrew W. Mellon endowed a new philanthropic institution, named for their father.

The reason for the founding was poetic and powerful: The United States, still reeling from triumph and tragedy and struggling to fulfill the promise of its ideals, yearned, as it does now, for the work of artists and academics, poets and professors. It needed the arts and humanities to serve as a steady guide for a people searching for a collective soul.

This is the world the poet Robert Hayden beheld in the background as he chose to focus his gaze on Monet’s iconic “Water Lilies” series. The insight of Hayden’s “Waterlilies” lies in the answer he offers to a fundamentally human question. Here is the complex solace of art when humanity is being tested.

03_GettyImages-544272174.jpgClaude Monet, Water Lilies (detail), 1914–26. The Museum of Modern Art.

Today, as the news again “poisons the air like fallout,”  I can’t help but draw the connections between that tumultuous period fifty years ago and our own.

Inequality and injustice permeate our social institutions. Still, those on the margins of our society—on the basis of race, religion, class, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, involvement in the criminal legal system, disability—face widespread discrimination and dehumanization.

America is wrestling with what kind of society it will choose to be. Will it continue to embolden the privileged and powerful at the expense of the marginalized? Or will it choose to envision, and fight for, a future in which all people are free?

The Mellon Foundation could not be reaffirming its commitment to the arts and humanities at a more pivotal time. Much as Hayden found solace in his encounters with Monet’s work, we at Mellon recognize the unique power of the arts and humanities to cultivate hope in the wake of crisis, fear, and hopelessness. When all available indicators signal despair, the work of the pen and the paintbrush can help us vision a better world. The arts and humanities can facilitate justice, too. From rewriting exclusionary histories to restoring all people’s right to create and shape their own narratives, the arts and humanities can be means to just ends. At Mellon, our grantee partners show this every day.

In 2019, we issued grants spanning the full spectrum of the Foundation’s work, but each grant was united by common purpose: pursuing hope and championing justice.

Preserving and Promoting Fuller Histories

Why do we ever concern ourselves with “the past”? Why spend time revisiting what has been, rather than expend our energies constructing a better future?

As William Faulkner put it, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”Our complicated and consequential histories—plural—inform every challenge we face today. We have a responsibility to expand and enrich our understanding of diverse histories through truth-telling in order to inspire hope and promote justice. Furthermore, we find it imperative to defend against the ways in which history is misused and distorted to uphold social inequity and stifle forces of progress. Foundation grants in 2019 supported exemplary work to lift up the fullness and complexity of our histories; we hope to expand the range of historical narratives available to the public for interpretation, resulting in a more profound understanding of the textured fabric of our nation’s past.

EbonyJet and the Value of Archives

04_Ebony Photo Archives_AP_19114474740204.jpgThe archives of Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony and Jet, as exhibited by Theaster Gates in The Black Image Corporation (2019). Photo: Getty Images/picture alliance/Christoph Soeder.

The Johnson Publishing Company’s historic archive of photos from Ebony and Jet magazines offers the most comprehensive picture of Black life in America in the twentieth century. In a world where Black stories and histories are often marginalized, ignored, or distorted, Ebony and Jet gave Black people the creative license to craft and curate their own narratives.

In July 2019, with the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the
J. Paul Getty Trust, we formed a partnership to acquire the archive. Soon after, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture joined the co-purchasing consortium. As a result of this collective effort, this important collection of several million images capturing African American life, history, and culture throughout the twentieth century—which had not previously been accessible to many researchers, let alone to a broader audience—will be preserved in perpetuity and made broadly available to students, scholars, and the public.

The Mellon Foundation is proud to have supported this acquisition, as well as others like the Harry Belafonte archive by New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. We believe in sharing a fuller American story through this historic preservation of culture, and are committed to making archives and digital resources like these more accessible and inclusive. What we choose to preserve and make public says so much about who we are, and the story we tell about ourselves. As a nation, we must keep adding to that story. It is the work of many lifetimes.

Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University

To this day, the full history of racial terrorism in twentieth-century America has yet to be told. Yet this traumatic history continues to weave through the fabric of our culture.

With this in mind, the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) at Northeastern University was created to chronicle the “anti-civil rights violence” that took place in the United States from 1930 through 1970. Since its founding, the CRRJ has been an invaluable resource for academics, policymakers, and organizations committed to restorative justice. The Mellon Foundation’s 2019 grant will allow the CRRJ to accelerate information gathering from witnesses who experienced the racial terrorism of this era first-hand. It will also help optimize its archival process and ensure that these stories and records become publicly accessible. In order for us to root out the racial injustice codified in our systems, we must gain an accurate understanding of the history that produced it. The CRRJ’s work is crucial to that effort.

New York City Mayor’s Fund and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The curation and expansion of our collective histories is happening well outside the traditional institutional walls of archival spaces, academic halls, and museums. This work is also unfolding in community space and public space across the country.

In September, Mellon issued a grant to The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to support the creation of a new Central Park monument to the Lyons family. As property owners, educators, and abolitionist activists, the Lyons family were revered residents of New York State’s first free Black community, Seneca Village. This Central Park monument will uplift their legacy, as well as the larger history of Seneca Village, a once-thriving community broken up by the park’s construction in the mid-nineteenth century.

05_Central_Park_Statues_aNWMrCM7SU-sG-3-dwFMQg4.jpgAlbro and Mary Joseph Lyons, circa 1860. Mellon is supporting the creation of a new Central Park monument to the Lyons family. Photo: New York Public Library Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

On the other side of the country, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is restoring Simon Rodia’s renowned Watts Towers. Built by Rodia over the course of three decades (1921–54), the seventeen interconnected sculptural towers are a fixture of the vibrant South Los Angeles community and a National Historic Landmark. For years, the towers suffered from neglect. But since 2010, LACMA, in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, has been leading the restoration effort. With Mellon’s grant support, it will complete the final phrase of work before the towers’ grand re-showcasing later this year.

Evolving Institutions

In addition to illuminating more truthful histories, the arts and humanities also enrich and connect our communities. For far too long, the arts and humanities were seen as luxuries for those who could afford them. But we know they are the human trace, that which connects us as a species across time, geography, and circumstance. They are public goods, expanding and growing our knowledge of all people and ourselves.

Philanthropy has historically overlooked the vast cultural contributions of marginalized communities—Black and brown people, immigrants, disabled people, those living in rural geographies, to name a few. In an effort to redress such omissions, we commit anew to supporting a wide range of institutions that are intentionally accessible, welcoming, and speak to broad and diverse publics.

Part of this essential work is done by elevating local institutions and community-based cultural efforts—wherever they exist—in the hope that we can meaningfully distribute the Foundation’s resources to amplify the transformative work already taking place within and led by communities. We also find inspiration and hope in those more traditional institutions engaging in the difficult work of self-evolution, broadening audiences and perspectives to build more inclusive spaces, which we see as necessary to meet the conditions of our time. In 2019, we made several grants to arts and humanities institutions that exemplify this range.

The Underground Museum

The Underground Museum is the creation of the late African American artist Noah Davis, and his wife, Karon. This cultural arts center, which opened just three years before Davis’s untimely death, in 2015, was designed to bring “museum-quality art” to underserved communities of color in Los Angeles. In partnership with The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, the Underground Museum has showcased artwork from MOCA’s permanent collection alongside pieces from up-and-coming artists of color. Beyond the artwork, the center has also become a space where community members can convene in “the purple garden” to dance and practice yoga, attend screenings of films like I Am Not Your Negro, and gather for community practice and politics.

06_GettyImages-472417690.jpgPainter Noah Davis, the late cofounder of the Underground Museum. Photo: Getty Images/WireImage/Alberto E. Rodriguez.

With the Mellon Foundation’s 2019 grant, the Underground Museum will continue its core operations while expanding its programmatic and operational offerings. Now, more than ever, the museum is committed to giving underserved, low-income communities and communities of color access to the unmatched power of the arts.

Puerto Rican Arts Organizations

When the 2008 global financial crisis hit, many Puerto Ricans emigrated to the mainland US in search of better professional prospects. This population shift strained many of the island’s social systems, including its arts and humanities sector. In response, in 2009, a group of young artists formed Beta-Local, an arts collective designed to support and promote the arts throughout Puerto Rico. Ten years later, the collective boasts a full roster of programming, including a residency program that attracts writers, architects, painters, and sound designers from around the globe. Today, it’s just one of the many grassroots organizations that we support in their work to enrich and sustain the arts and humanities in Puerto Rico.

In December 2019, Mellon issued a grant to support Nido Cultural, a newly formed platform offering administrative support and guidance to artists and arts organizations across the island, designed and implemented by Inversión Cultural, an organization that provides shared services to the arts sector. We’re equally proud to fund the development of Corredor Afro, a social justice creative arts project elevating the rich culture and history of Puerto Rico’s Afro-descendant communities. Based in Loíza, the heart of Afro-Caribbean Puerto Rico, this arts-centered initiative will produce an exhibit by local mural artist Celso González, in addition to hosting other public and scholarly facing programming.

Despite many recent challenges and setbacks, Puerto Rico’s arts and humanities culture is resilient and thriving. After several visits last year, and seeing this work firsthand, we are committed as ever to being a supportive presence in the region. And with the leadership of organizations like Beta-Local, Nido Cultural, and Corredor Afro, we are confident that the arts and artists of Puerto Rico will continue to flourish.

Rutgers University-Newark/New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Within the worlds of music and literature, jazz and poetry are kindred spirits. Although they are each governed by a certain set of foundational principles, they both are unpredictable and free-flowing. When it comes to the arts education programs public libraries and schools offer, jazz and poetry are seldom taught in tandem, despite these striking similarities.

With City Verses, a collaborative partnership between Rutgers University-Newark and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), this is all set to change. This program, which will run in Newark public libraries, schools, and community spaces, will aim to enrich the understanding and practice of jazz-poetry. With Mellon’s support, the partnership will marry Rutgers’s renowned programs in creative writing and jazz history with NJPAC’s longstanding connections to the histories of both forms of artistic expression. Now, students and practitioners of these institutions will have the unique opportunity to hone their crafts while engaging the broader Newark community in these dynamic art forms.


07_h_15203276.jpgArtist and NXTHVN cofounder Titus Kaphar in his studio in New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: The New York Times/Sasha Arutyunova.

Founded in 2015, NXTHVN is the brainchild of the prolific painter Titus Kaphar. This burgeoning community arts space, based in New Haven, Connecticut, is training and housing the next generation of artists and curators. Through fellowships, professional development workshops, and mentorship programs, NXTHVN is bringing the power and promise of arts education to a community that’s not been conventionally seen as a bustling arts hub. Spaces like this can energize smaller cities and artist communities outside the major hubs of New York and Los Angeles.

With this grant, NXTHVN will institute two annual curatorial fellowships, while covering the salaries of critical managing directors within the organization. These developments will allow NXTHVN to expand its programmatic reach. NXTHVN’s work speaks to the undeniable power of art in community, and what can happen when cultural organizations are erected for and by the neighborhoods that house them.

Supporting Creative Leaders

While the Mellon Foundation rarely supports individuals, I absolutely believe that we need creative and visionary leaders to inspire their organizations and communities in the work of interpreting, enlivening, and shaping our shared human experience. These leaders are artists, academics, archivists, and administrators alike, and work in myriad ways to support the robust and wide-reaching dissemination and production of culture. Through our grantmaking, we have been able to support efforts that uplift and create opportunities for the kinds of visionary leaders whose ingenuity shifts fields and opens us up to new possibilities, including the following:

The Academy of American Poets

In December 2018, we issued a grant to the Academy of American Poets to create a new fellowship program—to launch in 2019—to support the country’s poets laureate and help build capacity at the Poetry Coalition, a national alliance of poetry organizations. It is my firm belief that since the inauguration of the concept, local poets laureate have been essential to enhancing creativity, civic understanding, and to the ways that local communities address their shared concerns inventively. Despite this essential and transformative role, state and city poets laureate have historically not received funding that is commensurate with their clear public service. This program, which we helped extend through a second grant in December 2019, aims to redress this circumstance.

08_Claudia Castro Luna bookmaking.jpgClaudia Castro Luna, a 2019 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow in Washington State, producing a book documenting her fellowship project. Photo: Academy of American Poets.

United States Artists

A $3 million grant to United States Artists in June 2019 supported their flagship fellowship program, which aims to illuminate the value of artists in American society. The program awards thirty-five to forty-five unrestricted fellowships of $50,000 each year, allowing each artist the freedom to decide how to use the money. Past fellows have included a wide range of impressive creative leaders, such as Jackie Sibblies Drury, whose play Fairview won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize; photographer Dawoud Bey, whose documentary-style work has chronicled critical moments in Black history; and Las Nietas de Nonó, a Puerto Rican duo whose performance-based art was included in 2019’s Whitney Biennial.


Finally, 2019 was a year when we said farewell to several beloved colleagues. Don Waters, Senior Program Officer in our Scholarly Communications program, and Eugene M. Tobin, Senior Program Officer for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities, both longstanding leaders at Mellon and in their fields, retired; Saleem Badat, former Program Director for International Higher Education and Strategic Projects, who left Mellon at the end of 2018 and supported our grantees in South Africa on a consulting basis into 2019, is now a research professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he is completing a book on South African higher education, among other writing projects; and Alison Gilchrest, Program Officer for Arts and Cultural Heritage, departed Mellon to become inaugural Director of Applied Research and Outreach at Yale University’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. All of us at Mellon are grateful to each of these colleagues for the curiosity, dedication, and care they brought to the Foundation’s work.

We also saw the departure of our extraordinary Executive Vice President for Programs and Research, Mariët Westermann, in 2019. She became Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi—the chief executive of the institution and a member of the senior leadership of greater NYU. This position is a homecoming for Mariët, who was a key architect of NYU Abu Dhabi as its first provost, and thus a wonderful opportunity for her work to come full circle.

Mariët joined the Mellon Foundation in 2010 as a vice president, and was promoted to Executive Vice President for Programs and Research in 2016. In her nine years here, she accomplished as much as—or more than—many do in a lifetime. In addition to overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars per year in grantmaking by our talented program teams, Mariët launched several of our headline initiatives, including the Mellon Research Forum, the Community College-University Partnership, and the Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey. The scope of these initiatives, which span Mellon’s grantmaking areas, reflects the astonishing breadth of Mariët’s scholarly expertise, curiosity, and impact. Her leadership was indelible here.

One of my favorite words is comrade. Comrades are the people who are your joyful companions on a shared mission. A comrade is your wing-person, the person you can count on to have your back, to be there when you need them. Comrades complement each other’s strengths and forge forward with tacit understanding even when the battle plan has not been fully worked out. Mariët was my comrade in our Mellon work. “Comrade” comes from the mid-sixteenth-century French camerade, which derives from the Latin camera, chamber, which is to say, something of a roommate. And I love that, for we emerge from these rooms at Mellon to try to do some good in the world, to figure out some problems, to be good and useful people, and to do it with the best of our minds and spirits. We watch Mariët’s new chapter from afar but also with the miraculous proximity that technology allows, connecting us across what Mariët calls “the beautiful, spinning globe,” which needs the humanity that we humbly try to offer it with our work.

The Years Ahead

In “Monet’s ‘Waterlilies,’” Hayden declares, “I come again to see.” Fifty years after his poem and our founding, I believe the Mellon Foundation can say the same.

A half-century into serving our mission, we come again and again to see the importance of the arts and humanities, the power of preservation and education, the need for stories and institutions to connect us. We come again to see the value of fuller histories and wider access. We recommit to all the humans who, seeking inspiration or consolation, engage with the humanities and arts as researchers and students and scholars and audiences. These grants represent, in ways large and small, our renewed commitments and recalibrated directions as we move into a new decade of our work.

This half-century mark finds us in the middle of the pandemic. The work that we do is essential work of the human soul to help us get to the other side.

This year, we made a grant to the new PhD-granting department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University. Its arts track is unique in African American studies PhD programs and illustrates the belief that the African American experience—one of extraordinary struggle and extraordinary triumph—cannot be navigated or understood without the study of culture and the participation of artists.

A Black woman in a white shirt stands arms stretched on a college campusProfessor Farah Jasmine Griffin, chair of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University. Photo: Columbia University.

Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin, the founding chair of that department, has written powerfully in the Boston Review of her experience teaching African American literature in the pandemic, and of keeping the community of students together when they moved out of the lecture hall and onto Zoom.Her final assignment was not a lengthy exam nor the usual long paper. Instead, Professor Griffin began the assignment with a quote from Arundhati Roy’s essay “The Pandemic Is a Portal”:

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal,  a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.8

The quote was followed by Professor Griffin’s description of the assignment:

As we pass through this portal, let’s think about what we might take to the other side, and what we want to leave behind. One or two sentences per question. No more:

1. What one book from class would you want to take with you?

2. What, if anything, from your old life do you want to leave behind?

3. What do you appreciate about your old life that you would like to take with you?

4. What change, if any, would you like to see, and commit to help bring about, on the other side? 9

Her students replied with extraordinary visions in the form of music, words, drawings, and paintings. Professor Griffin observed that the students:

“...want to cultivate community. Significantly, they committed to addressing inequality, injustice, and environmental disaster. They want to join and create organizations and institutions committed to bringing about significant social change. Because I strongly believe in the power of art and creativity, I hoped these assignments would allow my students to slow down and dig deep inside of themselves. They did and emerged as visionaries, just the kind of people we need now: global citizens, gifted with creativity and imagination, and capable of imagining a more just future.”10

Our job as citizens and our job at Mellon, now and looking forward, is nothing less than working as well as we can to make sometimes excruciating choices—for even our sizable resources cannot begin to address the problems our societies face—and asking what is on the other side of the pandemic and what we will leave behind and carry with us when we go. For this reason, and so many more, I look forward to what we can accomplish together.

Elizabeth Alexander
May 2020


1. “Coronavirus in the US: Latest Map and Case Count,” The New York Times, accessed May 22, 2020,

2. Gwendolyn Brooks, “One Wants a Teller in a Time Like This,” Cross Section 1945: A Collection of New American Writing, ed. Edwin Seaver (New York: L. B. Fischer, 1945), 83.

3. Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me,” Book of Light (Port Townsend, Wash.: Copper Canyon Press, 1993), 25.

4. Leo Lionni, Frederick (New York: Trumpet Club, 1967).

5. Robert Hayden, “Monet’s ‘Waterlilies,’” Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, February 16, 1969, 16.

6. William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun (London: Vintage, 2015), 85.

7. Farah Jasmine Griffin, “Teaching African American Literature During COVID-19,” Boston Review, May 21, 2020,

8. Arundhati Roy, “The Pandemic Is a Portal,” Financial Times, April 3, 2020,

9. Griffin, “Teaching African American Literature During COVID-19.”

10. Ibid.