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History of the Kidd

In 1991, with an endowment of over one million dollars from Walter and Nancy Kidd, Garrett Hongo (then Director of the Creative Writing Program) founded the Kidd Program. The Kidd Program was modeled after the Watson Foundation of Rhode Island, the Hopwood Lecture and Contests at the University of Michigan, and the Harvard Tutorials.

However, the program we seek to emulate most is the Watts Writers Workshop, which was created through federal funding and by community leaders in Watts following the riots of 1965. Community leaders proposed the workshops as a way for the community to rebuild itself, and as an avenue to enhance and promote cultural life, raise morale, and provide education. In addition to helping the community, the Watts Writers Workshop did a great deal for an emerging black literary consciousness and helped build a literary tradition for young black artists. This kind of community continues to inspire the Kidd Workshops at the University of Oregon.

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