Freedom Schools: A little More on the Importance of Radical Pedagogy and Social Justice

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The atmosphere in the class is unbelievable. It is what every teacher dreams about — real, honest enthusiasm and desire to learn anything and everything. The girls come to class of their own free will. They respond to everything that is said. They are excited about learning. They drain me of everything that I have to offer so that I go home at night completely exhausted but very happy in spirit…”  — Pam Parker

The Freedom Schools challenged not only Mississippi but the nation. There was, to begin with, the provocative suggestion that an entire school system can be created in any community outside the official order, and critical of its suppositions. – Howard Zine

The pedagogical imperative of freedom schools:

In the matter of classroom procedure, questioning is the vital tool.

Freedom schools began out of a struggle for relevant and equal education for black students, as well as an offshoot of existing radicalization of the left by violent abuses of African American people in the South. After over 100 African American students were expelled from school for daring to question racial inequality and engaging in social justice activities, education efforts became part of the SNCC organizing agenda.

A women’s college in Ohio volunteered to be the site of teacher training for the freedom schools. As an important part of women’s history, the classes were largely taught by white women hoping to stand in solidarity with their black sisters and brothers. Black women also provided the backbone of the daily running of the schools, working alongside these white teachers. While there were some problems, black female students in particular felt empowered by the freedom school experience.

(Learn More about the Freedom Schools here)

all quotes come from here

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