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Press Release

April 16, 2015

Contact: Rachel Kellum
Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 405-522-0793

Oklahoma History Center Joins Smithsonian's National Youth Summit on the War on Poverty

Students connect past policy with present-day conditions

Oklahoma City, Okla. — On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at noon the Oklahoma History Center will participate in the National Youth Summit on the War on Poverty, an online outreach program organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The event at the Oklahoma History Center will link middle and high school students from across the country in an engaging program centered on the history and legacy of the War on Poverty.

"The Oklahoma History Center is proud to partner with the Smithsonian Institution's National Youth Summit discussing the War on Poverty. We look forward to the meaningful discussions that will take place, and hope that participants leave feeling both connected to their history and empowered to shape their future," said Rachel Kellum, curator of education at the Oklahoma History Center.

Approximately 50 8th- through 12th-grade students will come to the History Center to join in the national discussion with students across the country, after which the conversation will shift to local issues relating to the War on Poverty and its impact in Oklahoma. Local experts will help students think critically about poverty in our state as well as in their local communities.

In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson declared an "all-out war on human poverty," pledging "the most Federal support in history for education, for health, for retraining the unemployed, and for helping the economically and physically handicapped." Yet in September 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 14.5 percent of Americans live below the poverty line. The National Youth Summit will help students to answer questions such as, "How do we assess the legacy of the War on Poverty?  Do we need a new War on Poverty? What can and should young people do about this issue?" Students will talk with a panel of experts including Peter Edelman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University, faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality and a former aide to Robert Kennedy; Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history at Georgetown University and creator of the #fergusonsyllabus Twitter discussion on teaching history and contemporary events; Melissa Boteach, vice president of Half in Ten and the Poverty and Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress; and Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

The Oklahoma History Center is one of five Smithsonian Affiliate organizations simultaneously hosting Regional Youth Summit Conversations with local activists, scholars and youth. Affiliate summit sites enable young people from across the country to participate in the conversation originating from Washington, D.C., allowing them to submit questions for the national panel through the webcast's online chat and via video conference.  Participants can visit http://americanhistory.si.edu/nys to register and find more information.

The National Youth Summit was designed by the National Museum of American History to provide students with an opportunity to share their views and debate an issue, and the program aligns with the Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening. Panelists and the audience will explore the history and legacy of the War on Poverty and contemporary approaches to addressing poverty and economic inequality. The program also will focus on the role of young people in shaping America's past and future. Classroom teachers and other participants will receive a conversation kit, designed to provide ideas for leading discussion topics in age-appropriate ways. The project is funded by the Smithsonian's Youth Access Grants and the Verizon Foundation.

About the Oklahoma History Center
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.

About Smithsonian Affiliations
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. More information is available at www.affiliations.si.edu.

About the National Museum of American History
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. We help people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is currently renovating its West exhibition wing, developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., closed Dec. 25. Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call 202-633-1000.

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