Mississippi Freedom Schools

Kaitlyn Shearin

What is a Freedom School?

A Freedom school was a school for African Americans to learn a curriculum to better their chances of gaining equality during the Civil Rights Movement. These schools were developed as a result from the Freedom Summer project that took place in the 1960's.

Freedom Summer

The Freedom Summer was a project started by the Council of Federated Organizations and Robert Moses, a teacher and civil rights activist. This project was mainly designed for recruiting college students as temporary civil rights workers and registering African Americans to vote.

Origins of the Mississippi Freedom Schools

The state of Mississippi held the most hostility towards African Americans. Several communities in the state suffered from poverty and did not have adequate education for African American students. These schools were created as a way for African Americans to learn the legal facts that keep them from freedom and to learn to ask questions and engage in critical thinking. These schools also were created for social change.

The Curriculum of the Mississippi Freedom Schools


Freedom Schools followed three types of curriculum:

  1. Academic Curriculum
  2. Citizenship Curriculum
  3. Recreational Curriculum

All of these curriculum's focused on the following principles:

  • The school is an agent of social change
  • Students must know their own history.
  • The curriculum should be linked to the student’s experience

  • Developing academic skills is crucial.

  • Questions should be open-ended.


The Impacts of the Mississippi Freedom Schools and Boycotts


There were several non-violent boycotts that were created from the students at the Freedom Schools in Mississippi. These boycotts emerged after the students became aware of how inferior they were to white Americans and after several new civil rights laws were created.

-These protests and boycotts were usually non-violent, which caused the students to learn more outside of the classroom.

-Some famous Protests:

  • After the 1964 Civil Rights Act banned all segregation in public places, several Mississippi Freedom School students attempted to get library cards at the public library.
  • Some Freedom School students attempted to eat in what used to be an all "white" restaurant.
  • Several other boycotts included demanding better resources for the schools
  • Others included organized walk outs and sit ins.

Most of these boycotts ended with arrests.


Because most of the volunteer teachers of the freedom schools were white, the impact of the freedom schools was huge for their lives. Most of the white volunteers had lived with African American families in Mississippi and saw first hand the poverty and living conditions that these people had to live through and the true struggles that each African American faced in order to gain freedom.

Pictures of the Freedom Schools

Memorable Quotes from the Mississippi Freedom Schools

"It was like a privilege for me to have been there for that time and live with people who had to go through what the blacks of Mississippi had to go through...It really kind of turned my world upside down, it made me feel differently about the world that I live in, the values that I had" --Freedom School teacher Sandy Siegel

"the Freedom Schools allowed us to believe that we could rise above whatever situation that seemed to have been negative, but we were inspired to work harder...even if we didn't have the supplies or books, we knew that we could make it"-- Dr. Hymethia Washington

"The Freedom School shaped my future, my thinking, my outlook on life, it challenged me to do the things I've done and to have the mindset that I have"-- Eddie James Carthan

"We are going to talk about a lot of things: about Negro people and white people, about rich people and poor people, about the South and about the North, about you and what you think and feel and want...And we're going to try to be honest with each other and say what we believe...We'll also ask some questions and try to find some answers. The first thing is to look around, right here, and see how we live in Mississippi" -- Citizenship Curriculum