History ACTIVE

For the fourth consecutive year, the Museum hosted the HistoryACTIVE, a summer learning and leadership institute for high school students. The 2016 program, which took place June 27-July 1 and July 11-July 14, focused on the American Dream and American Democracy.

A group of twelve diverse students participated in the first week’s activities, exploring related topics, such as immigration, racial conceptions, upward mobility, LGBTQ+, historical interactions and activism. Throughout the week, the students were able to talk with Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield, Davidson College’s Dr. Katie Horowitz, and a variety of community activists. For their summer projects, the students ventured into the city to collect videos, pictures and information about local perspectives on the American Dream for a “digital story.” The video journals revealed how students connected within the larger context of American democracy and the idea of having an American Dream in the South.  

The second part of HistoryACTIVE was a four-day bus tour to Raleigh, N.C. and to Washington D.C. The stops focused on the historical context of our political system and the foundations for the American Dream. During their time in Raleigh, the students visited the office of State Senator Jeff Jackson, and were given a private tour of the North Carolina Legislative Building and Senate. While in Washington, D.C., students visited the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Archives, the NEWSeum, the National Mall, and the Supreme Court.  In addition, students met with Charlotte’s Representative Alma Adams following a tour of the U.S. Capitol building.

For many of the students, HistoryACTIVE was their first opportunity to learn about and consider the diverse perspectives on the American Dream:

“I really took away a deeper understanding of what it means to be an American and to have the America Dream, and what the dream is for different kinds of people,” said Josh Lovett, HistoryACTIVE participant and a senior at Northwest School of the Arts.

Josh was impressed with the people he was able to meet and the types of discussions and opportunities HistoryACTIVE presented. “It’s so different,” he said in comparing it to the classroom. “The program allowed us to speak and have conversations and that just helps with the overall gaining of the knowledge since it was so active and interactive. I feel like I learned a lot more in the week of HistoryACTIVE than 3 or 4 weeks in school.”



History ACTIVE is a two-phase program that assists teens in recognizing various forms of discrimination and ways of challenging them.

Phase One is a fully immersive weeklong intensive camp that pairs history, organizational visits and group learning experiences, it seeks to demonstrate that acknowledgement of the past is essential for meeting the social justice challenges of today.

Phase Two of the program is a bus tour to relevant historical sites throughout the Southeast, and beyond, to expose students to hands-on history and a real-time comparison of “then” and “now.” Through the use of social media, art, culture and more, students not only “learn history,” they “make history” too.

History ACTIVE is open to high school students (9-12 grades) in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. The next application period will begin in April 2017.For more information, contact Kamille Bostick, VP of Education at kbostick@museumofthenewsouth.org.

In previous years, HistoryACTIVE participants have looked at the impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the civil rights movement, and the changing demographics of the South.