freedom schools

A replication of a pin made by the SNCC for th...
A replication of a pin made by the SNCC for the civil rights movement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A look back at the Freedom Schools, getting new attention in light of the occupy movement. Currently, cities are facing the privatization of schools on a large scale and schools are now used to control access to the workplace even as they were originally designed to help provide a free path rather than to filter out. The militarization of police, the growing use of police in schools and the school to prison pipeline, the lack of supportive services and individualization, the punitive effects of grading and testing, the lack of citizen access and control, all make schools into something other than a social service for families and children. And students in Detroit are showing us that the history of the Freedom Schools is worth remembering.

The Freedom Schools, An Informal History | Solidarity: "LATELY THERE HAS been renewed interest in the Mississippi Freedom Schools. People are thinking about reviving "freedom schooling." They invoke what happened in the summer of 1964 as hoped-for authority.

I was the director or coordinator of those Mississippi Freedom Schools. Since
there were 41 Freedom Schools(1) and more than 2,000 students, of course I can't know all that went on." ....

When Bob Moses began to organize in McComb, Mississippi in the summer of
1961, he and others in SNCC set up classes to prepare people to register to vote. After a number of African-American students were expelled from the local high school, SNCC created "Nonviolent High" to instruct them in subjects they were missing.

The venture ended when (in Daniel Perlstein's words) "much of the McComb staff was jailed for contributing to the delinquency of minors."(2) A number of students moved to other communities to continue their schooling.   

But that is not the whole story. Years later, as a law student, I came upon the case
of Burnside v. Byars, 363 F.2d 744 (5th Cir. 1966). There I learned that in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney had been killed, Black students returned to public schools wearing buttons that said "SNCC" and "One Man, One Vote."

They were sent home but the federal court found that their activity was protected
by the First Amendment. This was the precedent later relied on by the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the First Amendment right of a young woman named Tucker to wear a black arm band in her Iowa school to protest the Vietnam war.

Unita Blackwell was the first Black female may...
Unita Blackwell was the first Black female mayor of Mississippi.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Freedom Schools - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Over the course of Freedom Summer, more than 40 Freedom Schools were set up in black communities throughout Mississippi. The purpose was to try to end political displacement of African Americans by encouraging students to become active citizens and socially involved within the community. Over 3,000 African American students attended these schools in the summer of 1964. Students ranged in age from small children to the very elderly with the average approximately 15 years old. Teachers were volunteers, most of whom were college students 

Unita Blackwell - Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia: "Blackwell's son and approximately 50 other children boycotted the school, because of its decision to not let the children wear the SNCC freedom pins.[41] As a result, Blackwell and some other activists in the community decided that it was vital to school those children. She helped open freedom schools in Issaquena County, to resolve the issue.[42] The schools became popular and continued to teach classes every summer until 1970, when the local schools finally desegregated.[43]"

Student Activism in Detroit

Suspended for Civil Disobedience, Students Create Their Own 'Freedom School' | Common Dreams: "Students at one of Detroit's public high schools who were suspended after an act of civil disobedience to protest school closures and inadequate learning conditions created their own "freedom school" on Friday.

“We need a voice in our school system,” said student protester Raychel Gafford. “That school system is supposed to work for us. It’s supposed to work with us. And it’s definitely not doing that.”"

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