Publication Date: April 12, 2008
The self-conscious use of education as an instrument of liberation among African Americans is exactly as old as education among African Americans. This dynamic anthology is about those forms of education intended to help people think more critically about the social forces shaping their lives and think more confidently about their ability to react against those forces. Featuring articles by educator-activists, this collection explores the largely forgotten history of attempts by African Americans to use education as a tool of collective liberation. Together these contributions explore the variety of forms those attempts have taken, from the shadow of slavery to the contradictions of hip-hop. Contributors address “Lessons from the Past” and discuss Citizenship Schools in the South, Ella Baker and the Harlem Y, Mississippi Freedom Schools, and Black Panther Liberation Schools. Contemporary models are covered as well, demonstrating the depth and tenacity of the tradition in such efforts as the Freedom Schools established by the Children’s Defense Fund.
Charles M. Payne is the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. His books include the award-winning I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Carol Sills Strickland has served as associate editor for the journal New Schools, New Communities, on the editorial board of the Harvard Educational Review, and on the editorial board of Afterschool Matters.
“One of the basic lessons of the Southern civil rights movement is that you cannot predict what spark will light a fire.”
—From the Foreword by Charles E. Cobb, Jr., senior writer and diplomatic correspondent for allAfrica.com
“One of the guiding principles has to be that we cannot lead a struggle that involves masses of people without identifying with the people and without getting people to understand what their potentials are, what their strengths are.”
—Ella Baker, Advisor, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
“In the spirit of Ella Baker and Carter G. Woodson, Professors Payne and Sills Strickland have assembled a collection of writings that reveal the complex but necessary truths embedded in the lives of young people of color and organizing for liberation. This compilation is a must read for those who work in solidarity with young people to change our condition.”
—David Stovall, University of Illinois at Chicago
“Teach Freedom combines a compelling history of liberatory education in the African-American community with inspiring contemporary portraits of schools and programs that build upon that tradition. In a time where high-stakes testing and narrow educational ‘objectives’ rule the day in our nation’s schools, this is a book—and a vision—we desperately need.
—Gregory Michie, Illinois State University, author of See You When We Get There