The National Youth Summit

National Youth Summit - Join the conversation

Upcoming Program

Check back for information on the 2015 National Youth Summit!

Program Description

The National Youth Summit brings middle and high school students together with scholars, teachers, policy experts and activists in a national conversation about important events in America’s past that have relevance to the nation’s present and future.

The program is an ongoing collaboration between the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS, and museums across the United States in the Smithsonian Affiliations network.

Watch a clip from the National Youth Summit on the Freedom Rides below:

Past Programs

National Youth Summit on Freedom Summer
February 5, 2014

Civil rights activists, historians, and students participated in a panel discussion about Freedom Summer, the 1964 youth-led effort to end the political disenfranchisement and educational inequality of African Americans in the Deep South, and discuss the role of young people in shaping America’s past and future. The webcast was hosted from the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.

National Youth Summit on Abolition
February 11, 2013

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History hosted a National Youth Summit on Abolition. Experts, scholars, and activists joined together with high school students from around the country and the world in a moderated panel discussion to reflect upon the abolition movement of the 19th century and explore its legacy on modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The program featured excerpts from the upcoming AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentary The Abolitionists, which weaves together the stories of five of the abolition movement’s leading figures: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimke, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown.


National Youth Summit on the Dust Bowl
October 17, 2012

In the 1930s drought and intensive farming in the Great Plains brought about dust storms, crop failure, and human misery in one of the worst ecological disasters in America’s history. On October 17, 2012, the National Youth Summit unpacked this story and connected it with current issues of drought, agricultural sustainability, and national and global food security. The Summit included segments from award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’s film The Dust Bowl and a panel discussion that was moderated by Huffington Post science editor Cara Santa Maria and featured as panelists: Ken Burns, Dust Bowl survivor Cal Crabill, United States Department of Agriculture ecologist Debra Peters, 5th generation farmer Roy Bardole from Rippey, Iowa, and farmer and founder of Anson Mills, Glenn Roberts.


National Youth Summit on the Freedom Rides
February 2011

The first National Youth Summit took place on February 9, 2011 and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides. The Summit featured Freedom Ride veterans and scholars discussing civic activism and the history of the Freedom Rides. The national dialogue included students at five Smithsonian Affiliate Museums around the country. Young people in 45 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Canada and the U.K watched the summit from their schools and homes via live web broadcasting.