The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS), an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, participated in the “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, the week of September 21–25. This year’s summit topic allowed youth to examine the impact of teen resistance to systemic racism.
The IMAS was one of thirteen Smithsonian Affiliate organizations to host a regional youth summit. The IMAS partnered with the Museum of South Texas History (MOSTHistory) to host a virtual summit. Rene Ballesteros from MOSTHistory and IMAS educator Elisa Hernandez co-facilitated the summit discussion for a total of 51 high school students from select RGV school districts, including Edcouch-Elsa ISD, Donna ISD, Hidalgo ISD, La Joya ISD, and McAllen ISD.
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. Digital platforms and facilitators were provided for students to convene in a discussion about this history and to examine the power of today’s teens.
Pictured: Scan of Valley Morning Star paper, November 15, 2918 captioned, “Three Edcouch-Elsa high School seniors show one of the various protest signs observed in the mass student refusal to attend school Thursday morning. The are, from left, Mirtala Villarreal, Martina Gonzales and Patsy Jacinto.”
“It was important to be part of the National Youth Summit so we could provide students with resources and information about our local history of systemic racism and how young people stood up against those practices. It was refreshing to see that the participants were eager to talk about this topic and share their thoughts and ideas. [They] wanted to learn more about how they can be an active part of social change. By participating in these discussions, they can be made aware of the history that is taking place and the power they have to influence it,” stated Hernandez.
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.
Over 4,000 students participated in virtual discussions facilitated by their educators, the Smithsonian and Smithsonian Affiliate museums nationwide. The regional summit hosted by the IMAS and MOSTHistory fostered discussions with teens on systemic racism through the historical lens of the 1955 actions of Claudette Colvin and the 1968 Edcouch-Elsa walkout. Teens discussed how members of our community overcame the punishments imposed on them for speaking out against racism in schools. The regional summit also featured an interview of walkout participate Mari Lozano and her grandson Roly Lozano.
One teen participant expressed how the discussion encompassed what they were learning in school stating, “[We explored] the impact of Claudette Colvin’s valiant act which was able to align to the current lesson we are learning about the civil rights movement.”
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.
About International Museum of Art & Science
The International Museum of Art & Science is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute and fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. IMAS is the premier art and science museum of South Texas and contains over 50,000 square feet of exhibit space. The IMAS galleries host a number of revolving art and science exhibits each year. The museum provides a unique opportunity for visitors to participate in hands-on science exhibits and to learn about original works of art while encouraging creativity and innovation. The IMAS permanent collection includes more than 2,000 natural history and geology specimens and 4,500 folk art and textile objects. The 1,500 fine art works in the permanent collection reflect many countries and artistic movements beyond Mexico, dating from the 16th century to the present.
About the Museum of South Texas History
The Museum of South Texas History is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is located in downtown Edinburg at 200 N. Closner Blvd. on the Hidalgo County Courthouse square. Hours of operation are Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. and Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information about MOSTHistory, including becoming a FRIEND, visit MOSTHistory.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and find us on YouTube or call +1-956-383-6911.
About Smithsonian Affiliations
Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums, educational, and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The long-term goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to facilitate a two-way relationship among Affiliate organizations and the Smithsonian Institution to increase discovery and inspire lifelong learning in communities across America. More information about the Smithsonian Affiliations program and Affiliate activity is available at www.affiliations.si.edu.
About the National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History empowers people to create a just and compassionate future by exploring, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. As the nation’s history museum, we challenge ourselves to become the country’s most accessible, inclusive, relevant and sustainable public history institution. To fulfill that role, as outlined in our strategic plan, by 2030 the museum will serve an audience that reflects the full racial, class, gender, ethnic and geographic demographics of the United States. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W. While the museum’s building is closed, please explore the museum’s website at americanhistory.si.edu. Follow the museum on social media on Twitter and Instagram @amhistorymuseum and on Facebook at @americanhistory.
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The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The mission of the International Museum of Art & Science is to promote a deeper appreciation of the arts and sciences through its exhibitions, cultural events, and educational programs; and to preserve, expand, and display its permanent art and science collections. The museum is located at the intersection of Bicentennial Way and Nolana Avenue at 1900 W. Nolana in McAllen, Texas. Modified hours of operation beginning on June 11, 2020, are 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Thursdays; 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; Wednesday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. reserved for visitors with sensory sensitivities. Please check our website www.theimasonline.org or call (956) 681-2800 for more information.