On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Freedom Schools

The Freedom Schools: Student Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, by Jon N. HaleStudent Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

In The Freedom Schools, Jon N. Hale discusses the Mississippi Freedom Schools, which were  formed during 1964 as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer. These schools were started by educators and activists to provide an alternative education for African American students that would facilitate student activism and participatory democracy, and had a crucial role in the civil rights movement as well as the development of progressive education in the United States as a whole. Forming a political network, the Freedom Schools taught students how, when, and where to engage politically, shaping activists who trained others to challenge inequality.

This book is based on dozens of first-time interviews with former Freedom School students and teachers, and shows the side of the civil rights movement that is often looked over in favor of the stories of national leadership or college protesters. Students and teachers that attended the schools speak eloquently about the principles that informed their practice and the influence that the Freedom School curriculum has had on education, as well as offering key strategies for further integrating the American school system and politically engaging today’s youth.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Jon N. Hale’s work hits the mark! It is accurate and timely in refocusing our attention on the profound power of African American youth and education. The activists and young learners who made the Freedom Schools possible have greatly gone unsung. In the midst of imminent danger, they learned and experienced democracy while illustrating the efficacy of community participation in education. Hale rightly places them at the forefront of the struggle for freedom. His book reminds us of those who saved the nation’s soul.” — Stefan M. Bradley, author of Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s

“Hale’s groundbreaking examination of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s tireless efforts to provide free educational opportunities for Mississippi’s African American children is an often overlooked yet instrumental component of the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The Freedom Schools offers a greater understanding of the schools’ lasting legacy and the profound impact of the Freedom Schools on Mississippi’s black students as they later engaged in boycotts and school walkouts, influencing public school desegregation efforts and the civil rights movement.” — Sonya Ramsey, author of Reading, Writing, and Segregation: A Century of Black Women Teachers in Nashville

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.