We’re excited to share Freedom School 2017-18 initiatives soon. Please check back!


Welcome to the Drew University Freedom School Initiative!

The Initiative is organized by a coalition of students, faculty and staff to expand our understanding of social justice and equip our community with practical training in non-violent resistance and community organizing.

Drew Freedom School is hosting a series of eight workshops through the spring semester to provide safe spaces for us to grow together as a community and empower ourselves to expand the circles of love and justice. These workshops are co-facilitated by members of the Drew community (faculty, staff and students) and professional community organizers. All participants come as equals prepared to share, grow and learn together.

Participation in the Drew Freedom School is free, but you must register to reserve a seat. You can attend one or all of the workshops. Meals will be provided. If you’re a member of the Drew community, please reserve your seat here. Also, if you have questions about the program, please contact Professor Kesha Moore at kmoore@drew.edu.

We look forward to growing this initiative from our Drew community to include local community members. Please revisit this page for additional information and updated session descriptions. Also, for more resources and reference materials, click on the Drew Freedom School Library Guide.

History of Freedom Schools

The Freedom Schools of the 1960’s were part of a long line of efforts to liberate people from oppression using the tool of popular education, including secret schools in the 18th and 19th centuries for enslaved Africans; labor schools during the early 20th century; and the Citizenship Schools formed by Septima Clark and others in the 1950’s.

The Freedom Schools of the 60’s were first developed by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi. They were intended to counter the “sharecropper education” received by so many African Americans and poor whites. Through reading, writing, arithmetic, history and civics, participants received a progressive curriculum during a six-week summer program that was designed to help disenfranchised African Americans become active political actors on their own behalf (as voters, elected officials, organizers, etc.). Nearly 40 freedom schools were established and they served close to 2,500 students, including parents and grandparents.

Workshops

Safety Pin Box

Facilitators: Leslie Mac and Paige Ingram

Safety Pin Box is a monthly subscription box for white people who strive to be allies in the fight for black liberation. Box memberships support black femme freedom fighters and complete measurable tasks in the fight against white supremacy.

Date: Sept. 19, 2017
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall
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Teaching Self-Expression

Facilitator: Liza Jessie Peterson

Peterson, a poet, playwright and actress, teaches theater and poetry to urban and incarcerated youth. She also launched The Urban Folktale Project, where students created original plays based on their most pressing issues and performed them at theaters in New York City. Peterson remains steadfastly committed to this population of youth—both at Rikers Island and at community-based programs—where she has discovered inspiration and light in a dark place.

Date: Oct. 25, 2017
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Ehinger Center – The Space
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NJ 11th For Change

Facilitator: Lizzie Foley

Feeling frustrated after the 2016 presidential election, Lizzie Foley helped mobilize fellow residents of the 11th Congressional District to do something constructive. Together, they created NJ 11th for Change, which advocates for more transparency and better representation from U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.

Date: Nov. 9, 2017
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall
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Past Workshops

Voices of Our Youth

Original scenes, monologues, poems, songs and dance created and performed by high school students from Newark, N.J. The students were mentored by Drew students via the course Theatre in the Community.

Date: May 8, 2017
Time: 5-7 p.m.
Location: Dorothy Young Center for the Arts

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Street Justice: Protecting the Lives of Black and Brown Youth

Date: April 20, 2017
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall

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Politics Outside of the Ballot: Organizing for Change

Facilitators: Lizzie Foley of NJ 11th for Change and Associate Professor of Sociology Kesha Moore

Date: April 3, 2017
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall

NJ 11th for Change is a grassroots, nonpartisan coalition dedicated to advocating for all citizens of the 11th Congressional District. The coalition promotes political transparency by monitoring the positions and voting record of the district’s Congressional representative, fostering productive citizen-to-representative communication and demanding public accountability.

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Free Exercise: The Foundations of Religious Freedom in America

Facilitator: Associate Professor Jonathan Golden

Many of the first Europeans arriving in North America came seeking refuge from religious persecution, and even before the United States became a nation, a culture of tolerance and respect for religious diversity was evolving. The Founding Fathers went out of their way to articulate a vision of religious pluralism, evident in their personal writings as well as our nation’s founding documents. Yet, a recent rise in religious intolerance and bias in the U.S. threatens these core American values. We will learn about the principles of religious pluralism in the U.S. and what we can do to preserve, uphold and advance those principles.

Date: March 27, 2017
Time: Noon-2 p.m.
Location: Ehinger Center – The Space

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Subversive Music for the Soul: Singing as a Communal Act of Spiritual Resistance

Date: March 14, 2017 (POSTPONED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER)
Time: Noon-2 p.m.
Location: Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall

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Breaking the Silence: Freeing the Voice and Body

Facilitators: Professor Heather Murray Elkins, the Rev. Eyesha Marable of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and her dancers

This workshop is designed to engage participants in the insights found in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s anti-war sermon, where he named the “three giants” of racism, militarism and poverty. We will provide ways to voice hope, speak truth and move with freedom using the performing arts.

Date: Feb. 20, 2017
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall
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Community Organizer with Rebel Imagination

Iris Morales, previously of the Young Lords, hosts examines the key organizing principles and strategies of activists like the Black Panthers, the Young Lords and others who galvanized grassroots communities in the 1960’s to fight for social justice.

Date: Feb. 6, 2017
Time: Noon-2 pm
Location: Ehinger Center – The Space

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The Little Things for the Littlest Folk: Facilitating Healthy Learning Spaces for Our Children

Facilitators: Associate Professor Elías Ortega-Aponte and Candace Simpson

Minister Candace Simpson will explore the importance of simple interactions as a method of bringing about social change. What do children and families need to feel safe, loved and heard? What are some ways that alternative education spaces can help to disrupt the cradle-to-prison pipeline? How can we foster opportunities for meaningful fellowship and future-making? Using her experience as site coordinator for the Concord Freedom School in Brooklyn, Minister Simpson will use storytelling and an interactive discussion to enable participants to develop their own foundational organizing skills.

Date: Jan. 26, 2017
Time: 6-8 pm
Location: Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall