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​AZ Speaks

AZ Speaks is a long-running and popular program from Arizona Humanities. AZ Speaks presenters represent a diverse range of expertise, from a variety of professional backgrounds including: history, cultural and gender studies, and more.

Browse our calendar for all AZ Speaks programs or see below for more information.

This program is made possible by Arizona Humanities.

 


​Ancient Southwestern Native American Pottery

Mesquite Library
Saturday, January 27 from 2 to 3 p.m.

The ancient Hohokam, Ancestral Pueblo, Mogollon, and Patayan cultures of the Southwest each developed pottery with distinctive designs that delight the eye and distinguish these Native Peoples. Join archaeologist Allen Dart as he provides a well-illustrated overview of the Southwest’s ceramic styles that were in vogue from 2,000 to 500 years ago.

​Arizona Outlaws and the Law

Cholla Library
Saturday, January 27 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Taking the events from Billy the Kid, who killed his first man in Arizona, the Gunfight at the OK Corral, and the arrest and trial of Ernesto Miranda, this presentation will explore how these seminal events became watershed experiences for the American legal system, and still impact the lives of individuals living in the United States today. This presentation will explore the development of the legal system and law enforcement in the Southwest beginning with frontier justice and finishing with our current legal system, which continues to evolve and grow.

Celebrating Black History

Ocotillo Library & Workforce Literacy Center
Saturday, February 3 from 1 to 2 p.m.

This is an interactive workshop that explores influential and little known African-American contributions and the roads they paved to make it possible for African-American leaders. 

​African American Pioneers of Arizona

Cesar Chavez Library
Saturday, February 3 from 2 to 3 p.m.

This Road Scholar program will feature compelling documentaries based on interviews and stories about prominent African Americans who contributed to the life and culture of Arizona.  Such luminaries include the late Dr. Eugene Grigsby, Betty Fairfax, Judge Jean Williams, Rev. Warren Stewart, Councilman Calvin Goode, and Carol Coles Henry.  Each individual's life is contextualized using prominent events that have taken place in Arizona and the impact his/her work had on the social, cultural and political lives of the state.

Registration required.

​Hopi Quilting Traditions

Agave Library
Saturday, February 3 from 2 to 3 p.m.

For centuries, Hopi men grew cotton and wove the fibers into blankets and clothing. In the 1880s, with the arrival of Anglo missionaries and government officials, quilting was introduced to the Hopi people and it quickly became integrated into Hopi culture and ceremony with quilts being used in every Hopi household. Hopis today are 4th and 5th generation quiltmakers and as the artistic traditions of two cultures are blended, it is not uncommon to see a quilt with a traditional Anglo pattern and an ancient Hopi image, such as a kachina or a clan motif. This presentation includes a trunk show of Hopi quilts.  Presentation by Carolyn O'Bagy Davis. Items will be available for purchase.

​Cowpokes, Crooks, and Cactus: Arizona in the Movies

Juniper Library
Saturday, February 10 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Tyrone Power, Andy Devine, Katy Jurado, Steve McQueen and, of course, John Wayne. From the earliest days of film, Arizona has been a setting and subject for hundreds of films. Some, like Junior Bonner and Red River, are considered classics, others, such as Billy Jack and Evolution, surely less so. Some may even be classics in the making, from Tombstone to Near Dark. In this entertaining talk, Gregory McNamee, a frequent contributor on film to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and former columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, looks at the Grand Canyon State on the silver screen.  Speaker: Greg McNamee.

​Armed with Our Language, We Went to War: The Navajo Code Talkers

Mesquite Library
Saturday, February 17 from 2 to 3 p.m.

During WWII a select group of young Navajo men enlisted in the Marines with a unique weapon. Using the Navajo language, they devised a secret code that the enemy never deciphered.  For over 40 years a cloak of secrecy hung over the Code Talkers' service until the code was declassified and they were finally honored for their military contributions in the South Pacific by Presidents Reagan, Bush, and the Navajo Nation. The Code Talkers' cultural background, how the code was devised and used, photos, and how Navajo spiritual beliefs were used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) form this presentation. 

​African American Art, Fort Huachuca, and World War II

Desert Sage Library
Saturday, February 24 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Fort Huachuca, in Sierra Vista, is the surprising site of a remarkable story of African American art during World War II. Central to the chronicle is Arizona painter Lew Davis. The base was home to two black divisions, and Davis painted murals for the two segregated officers’ clubs. For the black officers’ club, Davis produced something stunningly original: The Negro in America’s Wars, which represented African American participation in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I. Davis then produced a series of morale-building posters with African American faces.

Finally, Davis helped organize an exhibition of eighty-six works by thirty-seven African American artists. Betsy Fahlman will cover the works and contributions of Arizona painter Lew Davis in this session.

​Wild, Weird, Wicked Arizona

Agave Library
Saturday, March 10 from 2 to 3 p.m.

For a state that has been home to Geronimo, Wyatt Earp, César Chavez and Wonder Women, you would think Arizona earned some respect. Yet achieving statehood was a 50-year struggle, which finally ended on February 14, 1912. Jana Bommersbach borrows from both her work for True West Magazine and her work for Phoenix Magazine to put the 48th state into perspective. She shares some of the secrets prissy folks would rather forget. You will learn why this small state has had an inordinate influence on American politics, and why, no matter what outrageous thing happens anywhere in the world, there is bound to be an Arizona connection. This wicked, weird and wild romp through Arizona’s colorful history will shock, delight, inform, tickle and leave you wanting to learn more!

Armed with Our Language, We Went to War: The Navajo Code Talkers

Desert Broom Library
Saturday, March 17 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

During WWII a select group of young Navajo men enlisted in the Marines with a unique weapon. Using the Navajo language, they devised a secret code that the enemy never deciphered.  For over 40 years a cloak of secrecy hung over the Code Talker’s service until the code was declassified and they were finally honored for their military contributions in the South Pacific by Presidents Reagan, Bush, and the Navajo Nation. The Code Talkers’ cultural background, how the code was devised and used, photos, and how Navajo spiritual beliefs were used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) form this presentation. 

Spectors of the Past: Arizona's Ghost Towns

Mesquite Library
Saturday, March 24 from 2 to 3 p.m.

The promise of unimagined riches is what brought many of the earliest colonizers to the Arizona Territory. Following the trail to the discovery of the mother lode, they built, then dismantled and finally abandoned communities when mines played out – leaving behind tantalizing clues of difficult hardships. Some towns survived like Bisbee, Jerome, Tombstone and Oatman. Most disappeared, gradually becoming absorbed back into the desert from which they arose. This presentation explores more than a decade of historian Jay Mark’s journeys to these fascinating ghost places, along with their stories – long-forgotten places like Charleston, Contention City, Mowry, Fairbank, Gleeson and Congress.

​Hellraising, Heroic and Hidden Women of the Old West

Juniper Library
Saturday, April 14 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Desert Broom Library
Thursday, April 26 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Although history tries to tell us ONLY men settled the Old West,  Jana Bommersbach will shatter this narrative with her tour through some of the amazing women who made all the difference. Any woman who came West in the 1800s had to be full of grit and spit to survive and Jana has collected the stories of dozens of women who prove it. Ever heard of Donaldina Cameron or Biddy Mason? Sharlot Hall or Pearl Hart—Arizona’s infamous stagecoach robber? Jana reveals the contributions of women like Lozen, the Apache warrior considered the “Joan of Arc” of her people, and Terrisita, the most famous Mexican woman in the nation at the turn of the century. Meeting these women, you will never think of the Old West the same again! 

​Arizona Goes to the Moon

Mesquite Library
Saturday, May 19 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Arizona played a key role in preparing to send humans to the moon in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The Apollo astronauts themselves traveled to the Grand Canyon and volcanic fields around the state to learn geology and practice their lunar excursions. Meanwhile, U.S. Geological Survey engineers worked with NASA staff members to develop and test instruments while artists joined forces with scientists to create detailed maps of the moon that were critical to navigating around lunar surface. 


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