Freedom schools

30 juillet 2011

Last year, a great book was published, entitled « Freedom Summer: The savage season that made Mississippi burn and made America a democracy », by Bruce Watson. I discovered in this book what happened in July-August 1964 in this state that was Mississippi at the time. To make it short, volunteers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) traveled in Spring 1964 in many famous US universities. Their aim was to convince white students to come to Mississippi this summer in order to help black people from this state to register on voting lists (ie. to have the exam required at that time), to build libraries, to organize schools, and so on. The summer was hot and tense, long and murderous. But at the end, these people, black and white, young and old, showed that America was ready to fully become a democracy, so many years after its declaration of independence.

I can’t tell more, read the book instead, and believe me when I say that it is one of the books that moved me the most. For instance, one of the chapter introduces the Freedom Schools, and thereby the text written by SNCC volunteers to the people who will enliven these schools:

You will be teaching young people who have have lived in Mississippi all their lives. That means that they have been deprived of decent education, from the first grade through high school. It means that they have been denied free expression and free thought. Most of all—it means that they have been denied the right to question. The purpose of the Freedom Schools is to help them begin to question.

This text, available here, is a cornerstone of knowing why you teach and the way you teach are primordial. It also reminds me of a speech from Barack Obama in 2009, a speech everyone would be inspired to read I guess.

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