Museum Joins Smithsonian’s National Youth Summit on Teen Resistance to Systemic Racism
RIHS Student Program Leaders Kick-off Term with Empowering Historical Context
(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) – The Museum of Work & Culture, a division of the Rhode Island Historical Society, was pleased to take part in September’s “National Youth Summit on Teen Resistance to Systemic Racism,” an online outreach program organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations.
Designed for middle and high school students across the country, this year’s topic allowed youth to examine the impact of teen resistance to systemic racism. The Museum is one of fifteen Smithsonian Affiliate organizations who hosted regional youth summits with local activists, scholars, and youth.
The summit provided historic context for the actions of 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, a Black student in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, who refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus and later testified in the legal case that ended segregated busing in her hometown.
The RIHS provided four opportunities for student leaders from the organization’s Teen Advisory Board, Public History Internship pilot program, and Rhode Island History Day to convene in a discussion about this history and to examine the power of today’s teens.
“This year’s Youth Summit was an ideal opportunity to utilize our role as Smithsonian Affiliate to provide Rhode Island teens with the space to discuss the impact and importance of youth voices, both historically and today,” said Sarah Carr, Assistant Director of the Museum of Work & Culture. “These conversations have set the stage for the work these students will do as part of our teen initiatives for the remainder of the school year.”
The National Youth Summit featured three talks and discussions with scholars, historians and activists. Beginning with an introduction by Anthea M. Hartig, the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the National Museum of American History, the schedule featured a keynote address by Jeanne Theoharis, Distinguished Professor in Political Science at Brooklyn College of City University of New York, and a discussion with Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III and Kimberly Boateng, Washington, D.C., area student leader, on the summit’s key question: How can young Americans create a more equitable nation? Sara Mora, national immigrant rights activist, digital creator and organizer, emceed the event.
The National Youth Summit series was designed by the National Museum of American History to provide students with an opportunity to share their views and debate issues as part of a program that aligns with the National History Standards and Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening. Since the program was launched in 2011, the National Youth Summit has engaged more than 65,000 live viewers and many more through the archived programs.
The National Youth Summit is made possible by the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation and the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation K-12 Learning Endowment and is part of a larger Smithsonian initiative focused on civic engagement intended to help Americans understand the past in order to make sense of the present and to shape a more informed future. The museum has created a vigorous program with curricula, websites and outreach opportunities for students and teachers across the nation.