Daily VideoAugust 12, 2014
Why we still need Freedom Schools, 50 years later
Half a century ago, students and local organizers banded together to fight to end segregation and discrimination against African-Americans in the United States.
In what became known as Freedom Summer, over 1,000 mostly-white, college-age volunteers flocked to Mississippi and joined local African-American leaders to register voters, and protest injustice, but they also created Freedom Schools in an attempt to correct education inequalities for children of color.
The Freedom Schools addressed topics that typically did not appear in the curricula of then-segregated schools, including black history and literature.
But 50 years later, there are still inequalities in the American education system.
“We still have an inferior education system for millions of children of color, and particularly if they’re poor,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, which supports nearly 200 Freedom Schools around the country today.
Some students rely on Freedom Schools for food, according to Abimbola George, who served as project manager for the Omega Freedom School at Malcolm X Elementary school in Washington, D.C.
“It’s really hard to see, because you realize that, if it wasn’t for Freedom Schools, some of these children won’t have breakfast or lunch,” George said.
Originally located in churches and community centers, some of today’s Freedom Schools can be found in homeless shelters and juvenile detention centers. A disproportionate number of students in detention centers are black and Latino men, who are incarcerated in higher numbers than most other groups in the country.
The Children’s Defense Fund plans to build Freedom Schools next summer at historically black college campuses and on one of the original school sites.
Warm up questions
- What did the Civil Rights Act accomplish?
- What was Freedom Summer?
- Why is it important for history and literature classes to include many different perspectives?
- Many of the volunteers during Freedom Summer came from different backgrounds than the students they were serving. What sorts of challenges could this have created for both the volunteers and the students?
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
Examine shifts in public policy and plans for the fall as coronavirus cases ramp up in mid-summer. Continue reading
In this lesson plan, uncover the hidden economy behind our quarantine takeout orders. Continue reading
In this lesson plan, hear from a journalist convicted of “cyber libel” in the Philippines and discuss press freedoms in the U.S. and around the world. Continue reading
Some members of Generation Z are preparing to vote in their first national election. Examine historical youth turnout and ways it could be improved. Continue reading
In this lesson plan, explore the ways creating and enjoying art can help ease pain and trauma. Continue reading