Introduction: Legacy of a Freedom School
In 1963, when I was an English teacher in a New York public high school, I volunteered to participate with approximately thirty other teachers in a “Freedom School” project our union sponsored in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The county’s school board there had closed schools in 1959 rather than comply with the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education mandating integration. While we were teaching basic math and language skills to youngsters in classrooms set up in the county’s rural black churches, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was planning to launch a major civil rights project the following year in Mississippi. In August, organizers from SNCC came to Prince Edward County to tell the volunteer teachers about plans for the summer project and the Freedom Schools that were to be one of its components; I decided to volunteer to teach in Mississippi.
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