The 1964 freedom schools as neglected chapter in Geography education

Derek H. Alderman, Bethany Craig, Joshua Inwood, Shaundra Cunningham

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2 Scopus citations


Our paper revisits a neglected chapter in the history of geographic education–the civil rights organization SNCC and the Freedom Schools it helped establish in 1964. An alternative to Mississippi’s racially segregated public schools, Freedom Schools addressed basic educational needs of Black children while also creating a curriculum to empower them to become active citizens against White supremacy. Emerging out of a history of Black fugitive learning, Freedom Schools produced a critical regional pedagogy to help students identify the geographic conditions and power structures behind their oppression in the South and use regional comparisons to raise their political consciousness and expand their relational sense of place. Freedom Schools have important implications for higher educators, especially as contemporary conservative leaders seek to rid critical discussions of race from classrooms. They offer an evocative case study of the spatial imagination of the Black Freedom Struggle while pushing us to interrogate the inherent contradictions, if not antagonisms, between public higher education and emancipatory teaching and learning. Freedom Schools prompt a rethinking and expansion of what counts as geographic learning, whose lives matter in our curriculum, where and for whom we teach, and what social work should pedagogy accomplish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-431
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geography in Higher Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Education


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