Press Release

History Colorado to host Smithsonian National Youth Summit on Freedom Summer for Colorado middle and high school students

Colorado students converge Feb. 5 at the History Colorado Center to connect the legacy of voting rights with modern civic engagement 

DENVER -- More than 250 Denver-area middle and high school students and their teachers will meet at the History Colorado Center on Feb. 5 for the Smithsonian’s National Youth Summit to connect with local and national civil right activists, historians and scholars as the students explore the 1964 youth-led effort for voting rights and education, known as Freedom Summer.

History Colorado—a Smithsonian Affiliate—partnered with Metropolitan State University of Denver’s “Journey Through Our Heritage” to bring this online outreach program, organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, to Denver area students.  

Speakers at the History Colorado Center include Dr. Vincent Harding, Dr. B. Afeni McNeely Cobham and Dr. Winston Grady-Willis, as well as local community and student activists. The History Colorado Center is one of 11 Smithsonian Affiliate organizations simultaneously hosting Regional Youth Summit Conversations around the country. Coinciding with Digital Learning Day, the Affiliate Summit sites enable the students to participate with a panel of experts, scholars and activists via live webcast from the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Miss., where they can submit questions through the webcast’s online chat. 

 “The Smithsonian’s National Youth Summit offers an invaluable opportunity for Colorado students to connect with Freedom Summer veterans, youth activists and artists today who are working to make their community a better place,” said JJ Rutherford, Director of Education at History Colorado. “Meaningful discussions take place about our collective history at the History Colorado Center for students of any age, and participants in this program will be encouraged to think of themselves as makers of history and asked to consider their ability to be active and engaged citizens.”

This is the fourth in the Smithsonian’s National Youth Summit series, which regularly draws students from more than 40 states and a variety of countries worldwide. History Colorado hosted its first summit in 2012 on the Dust Bowl; more than 150 Colorado students participated.


History Colorado's mission is to inspire generations to find wonder and meaning in our past and to engage in creating a better Colorado. We serve as the state's memory, preserving the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through our museums, educational programs, historic preservation grants, research library, collections, and outreach to Colorado communities. Find History Colorado on all major social media platforms. Visit or call (303) HISTORY for more information.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Laurie, PR Director
(303) 866-3670