We were blessed on Wednesday to have a class led by Adjunt Faculty Dr. Leslie Etienne. The class regular attendants were joined by students visiting Atlanta from Pratt Insitute in New York and a lively conversation followed on how to decolonize education. Grounded in the reality of the Freedom Schools during the classical civil rights movement, participants were challenged to envision how similar initiatives might play out today.
Historical Examples of Decolonizing Education in the South: The SNCC Freedom School and the Citizenship Schools
Adjunct Faculty – Dr. Les Etienne
Education in the South has had a long association with resistance. As the movement for black liberation progressed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, alternative educational initiatives played a crucial role in preparing both youth and adult learners for action on the front lines of struggle. During the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964 the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee utilized temporary “Freedom Schools” to teach the “Three R’s” and to introduce direct action tactics and organizing skills to young people engaged in the freedom struggle. This effort was preceded by Citizenship Schools that operated throughout the south under the leadership of Septima Clark and housed in two seminal organizations of the era. The Citizenship Schools used popular education and basic academics to teach black citizens the skills necessary to pass racist tests used to brutalize, victimize, and disenfranchise undereducated black voters in the Jim Crow south. This course will use this historical narrative to frame education as a front of struggle in the current political moment in the South. (2 hrs)
- To heighten participants knowledge of the history of movement based examples of emancipatory education.
- To deepen participants analysis around the State’s historic role in racist educational practices and how the same circumstances continue to show up in communities today.
- To decolonize conversations about teaching and learning.
Welcome & Introductions (6:00 PM)
Introduction to the topic (6:15 PM)
Round Robin Discussion (6:30 PM)
Summary (6:45 PM)
Small Group Projects (7:00 PM)
Report Back (7:30 PM)
One Page Reflection (7:50 PM)
Dismissal (8:00 PM)