Civil Rights & Earlham Archives

Freedom Schools

This is a letter from the Council of Federate Organization to the prospect teachers of the Freedom Schools. The Council of Federate Organization was an organization involve in the part of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. Working together with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and that National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Council of Federated Organizations started the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project as part of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. The purpose of the Freedom Schools movement was first focused on getting adults to register to vote and embrace their voting rights without fear. Shortly after there was some success in getting the African American people of Mississippi to vote, the freedom school movement target the education inequality in Mississippi. The goal of the Freedom Schools that started in Mississippi were to fill in the education inequality in the education system. The amount of money invested in the education of a white student per year, was an amount significantly greater than the amount of money invested in the education of a student of color. The teachers to whom this letter was directed to were going to be the first to teach the youth, the summer of 1964. In this letter, it is mentioned that the "complete curriculum" was not available yet because it was being printed, until their orientation. The curriculum was known for being very complex because it intended to educate the students about politics and their help them understand their current social stand in society. In this letter, it is very clearly stated that the teachers were to follow this curriculum along with making their own contribution. This gives matter to the voice of the teacher, the same way they were to give importance to the voice of their students. As part of the Curriculum, case studies intended to be discussed in the classrooms are also included in the letter. These specific cases are relevant because they are all current or very recent events for that particular time and related to the Civil Rights movement. Major protests like the “Freedom Rides and Sit-ins” are listed among the list of already chosen case studies. Another gap needed to be fulfilled of the public schools for African American in Mississippi was the exclusion of Art electives. It is written in this letter that an exploration of the Arts was intended, perhaps of their limited funds. From the teachers, it is requested at last that if the had any materials that could contribute to the success of their teaching, that they were allowed to bring into the classrooms. Last the letter is signed by Staughton Lynd and Harold Bardinelli. Staughton Lynd was a history professor in Spelman College and he was appointed to be the director of the Freedom School Program by the Council of Federated Organizations. Harold Bardinelli was known to be Lynd’s assistant. It gives this letter much importance that Lynd wrote it and showed to be part of this movement. Lynd was a known white activist of the starting part of the Freedom School movement, also very educated, with a doctorate in history at Columbia University. Who ever was to receive this letter was taking on a huge responsibility and even a life risk.



Letter to Freedom School Teachers

Letter to Freedom School Teachers 

This document is an extended description of the structure of a Freedom School and a description on how to fund it a run one, directed towards other organizations. This document was re-created by members of the  Council of Federate Organization. It was first submitted and propose by Charles Cobb in December of 1963, to refer to the creation and funding of temporary alternative schools for African Americans youth, for educating adults about  the Civil Rights movement and organize movements. The re-publication of this document by the Council of Federate Organization, allowed for other organizations to use it as a manual to expand the Freedom School movement in other part of the United States. First, this document starts by recognizing the inequality of education in Mississippi as “grossly inadequate.” It explains how this negatively affects African American students and African American teachers because it prohibits them from speaking up about the relevance of the Civil Rights movement to their stand in society. In the list of concerns about the wellbeing of the Mississippi negro students, it is prioritize their academic needs, questions and their voices. In this document it is also included a short list of five categories breaking down the curriculum, This list is different from the latest versions included in the “Letter to Freedom School Teachers,” majorly because there is more emphasis on the academic aspect, whereas the more recent curriculum list put more emphasis on the political learning. At last, both curriculums purpose was written to be to raise a student force, conscious of their harsh societies, and leaders for social change. Describing the program, there are the proposals of two different types of schools that will offer different opportunities, Day School and Boarding school. Day School, for high school students of the communities willing to participate in the Freedom School Project.  There will also be  Boarding Schools, listed to have a more intensive approach and be selective about the students recruited. In the political education, part of the curriculum, is present a strong emphasis on teaching about Leadership Development. In the teachings of leadership, they are taught to broaden their perspectives of the Negro history and the progression of the movement during that time. Students were also to be taught organizational skills for the purpose of developing communities within the African Americans in the south. With these skills, students were to embrace their First Amendment Rights; Freedom of expression and Freedom to Assembly, which African Americans were not allowed in recent previous times. Furthermore it is listed in the document the process of the selection of students. Because the Freedom School Project was funded with limited resources and many adversities, the Freedom School project had to be selective about their students. Students sending in applications had to show evidence of leadership potential, in order to guarantee the success of the Freedom School Project. Organizations listed to be responsible for the selection process of the students is the Mississippi Student Union. The Mississippi Student Union was a small organization organized by high school students and graduates of Hattiesburg. These students were to recruit applicants for the Freedom School project majorly on references of organizations, like churches and school, and the students previous experience with community involvement.  


By Maria Mercado

Adopt a Freedom School

Adopt a Freedom School. Notice that this document is includes that curriculum of Freedom Schools. This curriculum was very complex and every aspect of it was very intentional.