It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors.”
- Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
What is a
In the summer of 1964, during the Southern Civil Rights
Movement, forty-one Freedom Schools were opened in
The Freedom Schools were based on the task of helping
release young students from the passivity that schools and society had fostered
in them, and in turn, providing them with the skills and experiences that would
encourage them to build leadership for a movement designed to change
* What does the majority culture have that we want?
* What does the majority culture have that we don't want?
* What do we have that we want to keep?
Such questions helped move teaching and learning to the larger realm of social, economic and cultural oppression rather than only the achievement of the vote.
The Southern Civil Rights Movement also launched the
Citizenship Schools (crafted by Bernice Robinson teaching in an early
Both schools shared the same principles—to teach confidence,
voter literacy and political organization skills as well as academic skills. In
Both the Freedom and
Why a Freedom School in DC?
Though many things are different between the Deep South in
the 1960's and
As importantly, city residents who are so affected by these changes almost never have a seat at the decision-making table. Once again, there is a strong need for capacity and skills building so that everyday people can create and implement a vision for change.
Since 2005, ONE DC has held Freedom Schools inspired by the original Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights Movement and other libratory educational models. In the ONE DC Freedom Schools of the last two years, residents representing various communities in DC – African American, Latino, Chinese, and many others – came together for a full day of interactive workshops to analyze the problems we face in the city – lack of housing, jobs, healthcare, etc - and to develop courses of action to create systemic changes that support the human dignity of all.
2007’s theme was “Taking it to the Streets”; the morning sessions participants developed a shared analysis of gentrification and displacement. After sharing a festive lunch, we expressed our analysis, demands, and plans for future action through artistic means. We made puppets, painted banners, and developed chants and drumming patterns that were later used in a parade throughout the Shaw neighborhood, stopping along places important to the history of our people’s struggle to maintain their roots in this part of the city. The parade culminated in a rally and community celebration!