Commemorative Display about Matthew Shepard at the American Heritage Center

The Shepard Symposium for Social Justice begins tomorrow, April 11, at the Wyoming Union on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie.

According to the symposium’s website, the Shepard Symposium, an annual event at the University of Wyoming since 1997, has evolved into a major national conference, seeking to engage participants in discussion and analyses of strategies and actions that can eliminate social inequality.

Honoring the work of the Shepard family and the memory of their son, Matthew Shepard, a UW student and social activist, the symposium changed its name in 2002.

Matthew Shepard was born in Casper, Wyoming, on December 1, 1976, to Judy and Dennis Shepard. In 1998, two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, drove Matthew to a remote area where he was tied to a split-rail fence, beaten severely, and left to die in the cold of the night. He died just a few days later on October 12, 1998 at the age of 21. His brutal and gruesome death has become one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in American history and eventually led to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009).


Matthew Shepard

To commemorate the life of Matthew Shepard as well as the 2018 Shepard Symposium, the American Heritage Center has created a display from our collections related to Matthew and LGBTQIA+ at UW and Wyoming. The display is in the AHC’s reading room (4th floor of the Centennial Complex) from April 11 through 13. The reading room is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm each of those days. Access is free and open to all.

The Shepard Symposium’s schedule of events can be found at For information on keynote speakers, please see


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