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Mon, 06.22.1964

Freedom Schools in America Begin

This date in 1964 celebrates Freedom Schools. These were exclusive Black institutions of learning that helped shape the American Civil Rights movement.

In the 1960s, the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) organized its Freedom Summer operation. Its main objective was to end the political disenfranchisement of Blacks in the Deep South. Volunteers concentrated their efforts in Mississippi.

In 1962 only 6.7 percent of Blacks in the state were registered to vote, the lowest percentage in the country.  This involved the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).  Over 80,000 people joined and 68 delegates attended the Democratic Party Convention in Atlantic City and challenged the attendance of the all-white Mississippi representation.

Simultaneously, 30 Freedom Schools were established in towns throughout Mississippi.  Volunteer instructors taught a curriculum that included Black history and the philosophy of the American Civil Rights movement.  Over 3,000 students attended these schools and the experiment provided a mold for future educational programs such as Head Start.

Freedom Schools were often targets of white mobs, as were the homes of local Blacks.  That summer, 30 Black homes, and 37 Black churches were firebombed.  Over 80 volunteers were beaten by white mobs or racist police officers.

Reference:
An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage
by Marvin Andrew McMickle
Judson Press, Copyright 2002
ISBN 0-817014-02-0

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