In the summer of 1964, hundreds of summer volunteers from across the US converged on Mississippi to put an end to the system of rigid segregation. The project set up dozens of Freedom Schools, Freedom Houses, and community centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population. The project was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), CORE, and NAACP. Most of the impetus, leadership, and financing for the Summer Project came from SNCC. The civil rights workers and the summer volunteers challenged the policies by the state of Mississippi to keep Blacks from voting, getting a decent education, and holding elected offices. As a result of the Freedom Summer of 1964, some barriers to voting were eliminated and today Mississippi has close to 1,000 Black state and local elected officials. In fact, Mississippi has more Black elected officials than any other state. While the Freedom Summer of ’64 made profound changes in the state of Mississippi and the country, much remains to be accomplished. .
Carrying forward the legacy of Freedom Summer, on the 5th anniversary of YOI’s summer program, we renamed our our three week school to YOI’s Summer Freedom School.
Our Summer Freedom School focuses on the developing of this praxis: organizing skills, political analysis, restorative justice, and young people’s movement history. The multi-week program relies on the hard work of many volunteers, support from eager parents, and the participation, knowledge, and experience of youth. Our program covers topics from environmental racism to school to prison pipeline, sexism to homophobia, Indigenous land reclamation to reproductive justice and much more.
Our goal is that participants leave the program as co-conveners, co-designers, facilitators, and organizers of more spaces for youth strategy and liberation.