Young, Gifted and Black: Teaching Freedom Summer to K-5 Students
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Episode 11, Season 3

Teaching civil rights history to young learners creates both opportunities and challenges. The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project and the subsequent Freedom Schools offer important lessons for helping elementary students to understand the civil rights movement. In this episode, we explore community-based strategies and activities for bringing the Black freedom struggle into your classroom. 


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Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement

Edited by Hasan Kwame Jeffries

Own the book from the University of Wisconsin Press that inspired and informs season three of the Teaching Hard History podcast!

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Hasan Kwame Jeffries: During the era of slavery, African Americans' primary goal was securing freedom. Some enslaved ran to freedom. Others tried to fight their way there. Still others sought freedom by carving out whatever space they could, to make life a bit more bearable.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Free Blacks wanted freedom too, freedom for their kith and kin, known and unknown, who were still held in bondage. They wanted them to enjoy the rights that they had. At the same time, they understood that no African American—including those unfettered by the shackles of slavery—could enjoy all of their rights as long as some African Americans remained trapped in bondage. US Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney made this clear in 1857 when he wrote in the Dred Scott decision that African Americans "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: After emancipation, African Americans' primary goal was securing what I call "freedom rights"—the combination of civil rights and human rights that enslaved people identified as the crux of freedom. No one knew better what it meant to be free than those who lived in the presence of free people, and yet were denied the rights of free people. Drawing on this understanding, African Americans pressed the issue, organizing for a wide range of civil and human rights, from the right to vote to the right to an education. And although the chains of bondage had been broken, African Americans still talked about their struggle as a pursuit of freedom.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: African Americans framed their primary goal as freedom for a full century after the Day of Jubilee. In the 1960s, during the height of the modern civil rights movement, this universal aim found expression in the use of the term "freedom" to describe various movement elements. Volunteers who journeyed South to test compliance with desegregation mandates in interstate travel were Freedom Riders. The songs played at mass meetings were freedom songs. The singing group founded by SNCC activists was the Freedom Singers. The literary journal of the movement was Freedomways. Field organizers bedded down in freedom houses. All Black political parties were freedom parties. Agricultural cooperatives were named freedom farms. Schools designed to empower Black students were known as freedom schools. And the effort undertaken by SNCC activists in 1964—to break the vice grip that segregationists had on the Magnolia State—was dubbed Freedom Summer.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And yet, when we talk about this moment of struggle, we cast it solely in terms of civil rights, a term that only gained currency in the late 1950s, during the height of the Cold War, when moderate civil rights organizations, such as the NAACP, began using it to deflect and diffuse criticism that pursuing freedom was akin to pursuing Soviet communism.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: But at the grassroots level, African Americans continued to talk in terms of freedom. Even more profoundly, they continued to act in ways designed to bring about freedom. And there is no clearer example of this than the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I'm Hasan Kwame Jeffries, and this is Teaching Hard History. We're a production of Teaching Tolerance—a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This season, we'll be offering a detailed look at how to teach the Black freedom struggle, or the US civil rights movement. In each episode, we'll explore a different topic—walking you through historical concepts, raising questions for discussion, suggesting useful source material, and offering practical classroom exercises.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Teaching civil rights history to young learners creates both opportunities and challenges. In this episode, Professors Nicole Burrowes and La TaSha Levy share important lessons from the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, and the Freedom Schools that summer volunteers organized. They are joined by educator Liz Kleinrock, who shares amazing insights for teaching the Civil Rights Movement to students in kindergarten and elementary school. Dr. Burrowes and Dr. Levy also share their experiences co-teaching a course called "Freedom Summer"—which they did on the 50th anniversary of Mississippi Project—for the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I'm glad you could join us.

Nicole Burrowes: I'm Nicole Burrowes. I'm an assistant professor in the history department at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

La TaSha Levy: I'm La TaSha Levy. I'm an assistant professor at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Nicole Burrowes: So I guess one of the things that is important for us to begin to talk about is what was Freedom Summer for those of you who might not know, who are listening. It was a 10-week campaign during the summer of 1964 that took place in Mississippi. Organizers pulled together from different organizations, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the NAACP, SCLC, and other organizations pulled together and created COFO. And they launched this campaign that was designed to do mass voter registration drives, to open community centers, to lead research programs.

Nicole Burrowes: And for us, two of the most powerful parts of Freedom Summer were the creation of an independent political party called the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. And there were also something called Freedom Schools, which we're going to go into more deeply later on in the episode.

La TaSha Levy: In K-5, you can engage young people in critical questions that framed the Freedom Summer Project. In K-5, when you're talking about fairness, when you're teaching young people about self, family and community, you know, the Freedom Summer Project is a really wonderful way to introduce them to the civil rights movement.

Nicole Burrowes: They can be exposed to it early and they can think about these things early, and maybe they can also change the way society is. We might sometimes think that children don't understand what's going on, but they feel it. Even if they don't understand it, they feel some of the things, especially when you think about all the eruptions from this last summer around Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and so many others who lost their lives. Children are aware of what's going on, and they see their parents reacting to it. And they don't always have a space to talk about those things. And so I think this history also opens up doors for them to talk about those things.

La TaSha Levy: Teaching Freedom Summer, we focused on two critical aspects of the movement, which was the Freedom Schools one, and then the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Nicole Burrowes: I think the Freedom Schools provides a model for what education could be like and should be like. They created schools all across Mississippi, where they educated over 2,000 students, mostly young people, but also elders, people of all ages. And their main goal was to really build a culture of resistance, to confront some of the fear that people had, to build local leadership, to encourage radical questioning, and to really pull people into the movement from the youngest to the oldest. So they were spaces of political education, academic education. They studied Black history, and when I say "Black" I mean African American, but they also had a diasporic vision, right? We've seen some curriculum that has the Haitian revolution in it, or that has African independence, right? This is something that was really important in terms of movement, was this vision of internationalism and connection across communities.

La TaSha Levy: The focus on Black history was so important because the system of education in the United States, you know, really marginalizes or distorts or invisiblizes the contributions that people of African descent have made to this nation. And so they made a connection between the curriculum and the state of mind in Mississippi, so that if people don't see themselves in the curriculum, how can they see themselves as contributors? Or how can they see themselves as political actors? And that was so important to bring those aspects of history to the fore, in terms of the many contributions that African people have made to the world.

La TaSha Levy: Educator Liz Kleinrock offered her insights into teaching civil rights lessons with K-5, which we think can deepen our conversation here, since we're college educators. The first question we asked Liz was: Some people tend to think that young people are not ready to talk about race. What would you say to them?

Liz Kleinrock: You know, whether or not we have these guided discussions in class, kids are still exposed to all the same things that adults are exposed to. They still hear the same political rhetoric on the radio or on TV. They overhear adult conversations between family members in their own homes. I think one of the biggest gifts that we can give to students and young children is providing them with language and context so that they do understand issues that are happening in our society, particularly if we're talking about students who come from marginalized backgrounds: Black and brown kids, queer kids, kids of, like, non-Christian religious identities. Because if you are a child of a marginalized background, you're confronted with those parts of your identities and the social issues that impact you and your family and your community every single day.

Liz Kleinrock: One of the things that I tend to wonder the most when people say kids aren't ready, they're not prepared, they're not capable, is who are you really centering in your concern? Because oftentimes when I hear adults express those concerns, what I'm really hearing is them saying, "I'm not comfortable, I'm not ready." We always want to make sure that we're trying to center our students in the conversation as much as possible, rather than our own discomfort. One of the first activities I do with students is just I give them a really simple survey asking them on a scale of one to five, how comfortable are you talking about race or racism? And anonymously, why did you give yourself this particular ranking? I saw that there was a lot of eagerness and desire to talk about race and racism, but there was still a lot of discomfort and a lot of uncertainty. I remember when one student raised her hand and said, "You know, I gave myself a four out of five because I want to talk about it, but I'm really scared that I'm going to say something racist by accident and not know it." And in that moment, I remember, like, half the class, like, did our connection symbol in class. And they were like, "Oh my gosh, me too!" And it was almost like this collective weight had fallen off their shoulders, knowing that they weren't the only one who felt that way, that had that same concern. And we were able to talk about it.

Liz Kleinrock: I also sent this survey home to parents in the form of a Google survey, and then in class the next day were able to look at student data compared with the data of their adult family members. And it's really interesting to be able to compare and contrast. And I think it's also very relieving and humanizing for students to be able to see that the adults in their lives might feel similarly about talking about these issues, even though they're much older.

Liz Kleinrock: I think a lot of teachers avoid these conversations because of anxiety or discomfort. Your students might ask you a question and you're not quite sure how to respond. But I think that there's an enormous amount of power in just telling your students, "You know, that's a really good question, but I actually don't know the answer to that. But I bet we could probably try to find an answer together." I think it's really important for students to see that adults are not the holders of all information and knowledge, and it can create a really cool co-learning opportunity between the adult and the students.

Liz Kleinrock: I think it's also important for teachers to differentiate between centering comfort or discomfort, and giving students too much information in a way that isn't actually helping their learning experience, but might actually be causing trauma to some students. I think when it comes to topics where things like violence might be involved, you do have to really carefully navigate how much information to share with students. Like, what is quote unquote "age appropriate," and what isn't. There is definitely a big difference between pushing students to talk about race and racism, even if it makes them uncomfortable, particularly if you're working with white students who are not used to being confronted with a racialized identity, versus volunteering information about how enslaved people were treated or abused by enslavers, which will be necessary for certain understandings, but I think with young kids may not be as appropriate or helpful for their learning and understanding.

Liz Kleinrock: From an inquiry-based perspective, if you're inviting kids to share what they think they know about a topic and also the questions that they have, you're able to meet them where they're at. You don't have to volunteer more information as long as you’re able to address the questions that they have in a way that addresses their curiosity but doesn't go into, like, really gruesome or specific detail when it's not necessary to do so. I always start by asking kids what they think they know about a particular topic and also what questions they have. So if we're talking about the civil rights movement, beginning with questions like: what does it even mean to be free? What does it mean to have power? How does one gain power or control over their own lives? In my class, I often did this as a gallery walk, so I would create these posters that would just say, "What does it mean to be free?" I would give kids post-its, and they were able to write down their ideas and definitions and put them on different posters, and walk around the room to see what their peers thought too. And we would come back together and talk about patterns or themes that we saw reoccurring in folks' responses, and use that as a springboard to the more specific conversation about freedom schools or civil rights.

Liz Kleinrock: I think with kids it's a really interesting reflection, because they begin to identify places in their life where they have control or autonomy, and places where decisions are made for them. Sometimes it brings up some feelings of frustration, when they point out that I don't actually get a say over where I go to school or what I eat for lunch or what I wear in the morning, so where are the places where I do have power or autonomy? Where can I make decisions for myself in my own life? What am I okay with and what am I not okay with, too? And if I want to gain power or gain control of a particular part of my life, what needs to happen in order for me to change that positionality?

Liz Kleinrock: It's always important for teachers to consider how they're presenting these topics through a social-emotional lens and also a trauma-informed lens. Remembering that these are not separate practices, but lenses through which you teach all subjects, and both of them are rooted in understanding who your students are and building relationships with them. I think when it comes to talking about issues that could be traumatizing or triggering to students, making sure that you are providing so many opportunities for reflection, for processing, and also recognizing that not all students reflect and process the same way. I give students opportunities to share out, having them write journal poems, having them talk to one another, making sure that I have a good sense of how they feel, how they're interpreting the information that we're talking about in class, making sure they know that their questions are honored in class, that if they don't understand something they can always come to you, that if you're going to ask your students to be vulnerable with you, that you're willing to do the exact same thing with them.

Liz Kleinrock: The comfort level that I have had when it comes to having these conversations with students is very much dependent on the level of support that I'm receiving outside of the classroom: administrative support, parental caregiver support or pushback, however the school board or the superintendent feels, what donors of your school feel. All of these things can influence a teacher's comfort level, and that level of support can very much determine whether a teacher chooses to engage and talk about things like race and racism in their class or if they stay away from it. I think it's really important for teachers to build community, build capacity as much as possible, not only with school colleagues, but also with family members and caregivers, administrators, making sure that we can truly form a collective to center and benefit all students, because it's a lot easier to voice your concerns or deal with some of those difficult conversations if you are going in as a group with a shared vision and goal of anti-bias and anti-racism for young people, rather than if you're just sitting in the principal's office alone.

La TaSha Levy: Wow, Liz, that was amazing. That was amazing. I really liked how the question was turned around to focus on what are the adults worried about, because we kind of get a sense that people are usually not ever ready. Some people aren't ever ready to dig deep into the racial history of this nation. And so it's so incredibly important to start when they're young. I think we can't afford to wait, actually.

Nicole Burrowes: Yeah. And I especially loved what she said about being student-centered. Like, really getting to know the students, and to learn where they're from and to learn how they see the world. It makes the classroom a much more powerful experience for students.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: This season of Teaching Hard History is based on the book Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement—recipient of the 2020 James Harvey Robinson Prize for the most outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of history, from the American Historical Association. And this podcast is produced in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Press—publishers of this collection of essays, which I edited. From now until the end of April, they are offering a 30 percent discount to listeners who order this collection. You’ll find a link to purchase the book at Just use the promotional code: CIVILRIGHTS—all one word. Now let’s continue our conversation with La Tasha Levy and Nicole Burrowes.

Nicole Burrowes: Part of the role of the Freedom School was to build a culture of resistance, encouraging what they called radical questioning, something that we also encouraged in our classroom.

La TaSha Levy: So radical questioning, you know, is a concept that Charles Cobb Jr. really pushed in terms of framing the freedom schools. And what he meant by that is that you have to question everything, question everything around you, and not just take information at face value or, you know, to just consume information without critical thought or critical analysis. And so part of why this was important to him is because he said that the Mississippi schools were set up as what he called intellectual wastelands, where questioning wasn't even acceptable or allowed. You weren't allowed to question the teacher. You weren't allowed to question the information. And so part of what they pushed in terms of radical questioning is to question all those things that we may take for granted, like what is American democracy?

La TaSha Levy: And so the radical questioning should lead students to think about who has power and who does not have power in these systems, and how might we change that dynamic?

Nicole Burrowes: There's a document that we love called the Declaration of Independence that was done in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, by junior high school students and high school students. And I just want to read a very short section of it. We usually study this with the students because it can give you a sense of what were students thinking about, what were some of the pressures that they faced, what were some of the visions that they had for a different kind of community and society? I'll just read you a couple of sections. One of them says, "We, the Negroes, have made a decision to stand up for our rights." These are junior high school and high school students, right? They're building this off the Declaration of Independence.

Nicole Burrowes: "We, as citizens of Mississippi, do hereby state that all people should have the right to petition, to assemble and to use public places." Remember, at this time, they had started to create laws to prevent people from doing some of the organizing work in Mississippi. And one of the things we've studied in the class is, like, the different laws that were created in response to the movement. Some of the things they mention as grievances: "The Negro does not have the right to petition the government for redress of these grievances, for equal job opportunity, for better schools and equipment, for better recreation facilities, for more public libraries, for schools for the mentally ill." You imagine that they were thinking about people who had mental health challenges. "For more and better senior colleges, for better roads in the Negro community."

Nicole Burrowes: And it goes on and they have a lot of demands and things that they want to have ended. But it's a fascinating, very short document that can be used with students to help them think about what was going on back then, and also for them to think about what they might put in it right now, and to begin to do some of that radical questioning that we talked about.

La TaSha Levy: What was so great about teaching Freedom Summer was that we were able to bring the ways in which we were inspired by the Freedom Schools themselves to our design of the course in ways that we imagined that a Freedom School would have been in Mississippi. We didn't have these schools how we think of them today in certain buildings, but they were using church basements, they were using someone's backyard to hold a Freedom School.

Nicole Burrowes: We had classes in different venues in the community, and we had people who were from there talk to the students and lead some of the sessions.

La TaSha Levy: We held class in a local barbershop, and it was a wonderful conversation with Mel the barber who initiated or facilitated conversation around one of the readings. And it opened them up to think about that there are opportunities to learn from the people around you always, and that school is much bigger than any building that we enter into.

Nicole Burrowes: We had them also do these service learning projects where they were supposed to work in the community. So there was a voter education project. But one of the things that some of the students found difficult was really to talk to people in the community. They really struggled to do outreach, face to face in person. And I think that it's exciting that we have the internet and that we have social media, but I still think those other kinds of skills, where people talk to folks face to face and encourage them to learn from people about how they think about the world, I think can be challenging sometimes. And so this was an opportunity for us also to help expose some of the students to some of that work, and to begin to practice some of it, because it all takes practice. Nobody comes out born being able to do it, right? Like, it's something that you learn and practice to do. It takes time and energy. And, you know, sometimes they really impressed us too, right? I don't want to make it sound like they were just scared of people, but sometimes they were. And then other times they really were very excited and were able to articulate some of the things that they had been talking about in class, and work with people in Charlottesville.

Nicole Burrowes: Let's hear some more from Liz Kleinrock. We asked her: how do you see elements of the Freedom Schools model reflected in your own practice?

Liz Kleinrock: Thinking about the elements of freedom school models, we see connections between that type of education and what we're currently experiencing in this pandemic. Something that I've definitely noticed as a teacher who's been in virtual pandemic Zoom school for the past number of months, is that I needed to become much more intentional with how I was using words like "schooling," "teaching" and "learning." It's made me much more aware that schooling is one type of learning that takes place within a school building or within, you know, a Zoom school or a Zoom classroom, but that teaching and learning happen everywhere.

Liz Kleinrock: As an educator who strives to incorporate things like socio-cultural theory, constructivist theory in my classroom with my students, I've tried to really consider myself to be a community educator, to make sure that I'm really understanding who my students are and using an asset-based lens as much as possible, and checking myself if I'm ever falling into deficit traps. I want to make sure that I am honoring my students for who they are and what they bring to the classroom: their expertise, their identities. Because students are truly the ones who are experts on themselves and in their own lives. If we look at statistics, like, 88 percent of public school teachers are white women, and we also look at the demographics of who public school students are in our country, most of the time, teachers are not actually from the communities where they're teaching. So how can you then develop your identity as a community-based educator?

Liz Kleinrock: When I'm going into a school, and I don't live in the same neighborhood as where my students live, but I still want to make sure that I understand who they are and where they come from, I want to make sure that I'm spending time in the places where they hang out. So when I became a teacher—I grew up in Washington, DC, but I went to graduate school out in Los Angeles. So when I became a teacher, I was teaching at a neighborhood in Watts in South Los Angeles. And because I did not grow up in that neighborhood, it was really up to me to try to carve out time to drive around with a lot of my other classmates. We went to the shops and the parks where a lot of our students hung out and just talked to people in the community. Asked them things like, how long have you lived here? Where are your favorite places to eat, to gather? And wanting to see the community really from their eyes and perspectives, rather than somebody who's an outsider.

Liz Kleinrock: I would suggest things like tapping into the resource that is parent and caregiver identities, cultural backgrounds, as well as their areas of expertise to try to engage them in the learning process along with students. I want to make sure that I'm sending home communication to families, letting them know what we're talking about in school, but also sharing resources, guiding questions for things that you can talk about around the dinner table, so they also become involved in what we're discussing in class. I think it's really important to make sure that students also know that there is a relationship between home and school, and that we are a partnership, and we're all here to support students in their learning.

Liz Kleinrock: There have also been ways to leverage parents and caregivers and community members. In one particular unit I did that focused on financial literacy, I asked parents who were business owners—and when I say business owner, I mean that in, like, a very all-encompassing sense. I had a mom who owned a bakery, a mother who made clothing, a father who had his own real estate agency, come in and talk about the way that they use money and mathematics every single day in their own practice. It was really great for kids to be able to see how people in their own communities were using mathematics in this way, and also for the children of these parents and caregivers to learn more about their own family members.

Nicole Burrowes: I also love the idea of including families in the discussion. I loved her homework suggestions on bringing some of the things that you're learning in class home. And that's exactly what they did in Freedom Schools. They took what they learned in the Freedom Schools and they wrote articles about it. They talked to their family members about it. They talked to community members about it. And so that's definitely a fantastic suggestion and modeling of Freedom School curriculum.

La TaSha Levy: It's really important, I think, for teachers to consider the connection between community and school, and to think about the particular context that these students come from. And not in a way to suggest the assumption that, you know, if you are a Black student, for instance, that you are automatically at risk, or that you come from, you know, communities that are deprived or that you approach it from a deficit model. But instead, think of them coming from communities with a wealth of information and wisdom and understanding.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: This is Teaching Hard History, and I’m your host Hasan Kwame Jeffries. To continue making this podcast a valuable resource, we need your input. You can help us by taking a few minutes to complete our brief “Listener Survey.” Just click on the link in the show notes or visit It’s only 10 questions, and your feedback will help us make each episode even more impactful for educators just like you. Now, let’s return to Dr. Levy and Dr. Burrowes.

Nicole Burrowes: One of the exercises we've done that I think has been so interesting to hear students talk about is what their vision for a just society would be. And, you know, the last time we did it, they sat there for hours. I mean, the class was over and they still sat there talking about what they wanted the world to look like, what they wanted communities to look like, what they wanted people to have access to.

La TaSha Levy: During that activity, we actually invited a community organizer to come into the classroom to facilitate the students in drawing what a free society looks like. We brought in paper and markers for them to work with. And they loved it, the college students. And so for K-5, it's a great way to have them work in groups, though, you know, and collaborate on drawing a picture of a free society. And, you know, we were just really amazed with the things that they came up with. So I can imagine that will be really interesting and innovative to have these kids do that and then link that to what was happening in the civil rights movement.

Nicole Burrowes: Liz Kleinrock has more thoughts on teaching about activism and social justice with young students. Let's take a listen.

Liz Kleinrock: I think when folks think about teaching about activism or social justice, the academic subjects that come to mind are very quickly like, well, what are we reading? What are we writing about? What are we studying in history? But really, anti-bias and anti-racist work is something that can be applied and should be applied to every subject and every discipline, including math and science, but also, like, physical education and the arts. And there are so many incredible ways to build those collaborations in so you're not actually taking on anything additional in your day to day, you're just changing your focus and the lens that you use. So your students are still able to meet their academic standards and objectives, but you can be really intentional about artists that you center, texts that you choose, the way that you're applying what students are learning to life outside of school.

Liz Kleinrock: At my prior school, I really loved collaborating with the art teacher. Like, I didn't teach art myself, but what was happening in our class could also be mirrored in what was happening in the classroom. For one particular unit when we were doing author studies, I love the book Tar Beach. I actually remember reading that book in class as a kid, and it was also a book that one of my school's art teachers really loved too. So as we're learning about Faith Ringgold, her background, her passion, we can take a look at the literature when we're tackling reading and writing in class, and then our art teacher was able to come in and talk more about her particular technique and collage and the mediums and how we can use those techniques to create our own pieces.

Liz Kleinrock: For Black History Month, I don't believe that month should ever be used for talking about enslavement or oppression, but it's really about joy and power and celebration. So I loved focusing on the Harlem Renaissance for Black History Month, exposing kids to poetry and dance and music that was created during that era, and thinking about how art is often a form of activism. It's a form of self-expression. It's a form of resistance. And how different artists use their mediums to convey their opinions and their experiences and beliefs. Because I think with a lot of students, they think about activism as somebody getting up and giving a speech, or writing this really powerful book or essay. But activism comes in all different forms, all different shapes and sizes, and there is not one form of activism that is inherently better than another.

Nicole Burrowes: Yes, Liz! I loved her talking about anti-racist work. That is part of everything that we teach, including math. I love that, about the Algebra Project that was co-founded by our own Bob Moses, that still is in existence, that still works with students to think about math and how it relates to everyday life, and to think about social justice as it relates to math. That's a really wonderful resource, The Algebra Project. But I also—I love the use of art and poetry and having them make it themselves, right? It just opens up a whole other world of conversation. And I love seeing their art. I love it. Like, it makes me so excited. And then when they have to explain to you what they're doing or what they're thinking about, I just learn so much from them when we use creative exercises.

La TaSha Levy: I think what Liz captures, is really the heartbeat of the Freedom Schools in terms of being holistic. So even as maybe the intention was that, before you get people registered to vote, they have to have some kind of political education because the education system has been so poor. But you can't just teach them about the politics. You have to incorporate theater or music. You know, just something that's a little bit more humanistic and holistic, I think, is probably, you know, one of the greatest gifts of the Freedom School curriculum and design.

Nicole Burrowes: Definitely. And one of the things that always stood out to me was that music was such a part of the civil rights movement, whether it was in the classroom during the Freedom Schools where they were learning freedom songs, or whether it was preparing to do a protest, or whether it was in church or in religious institutions, getting ready to launch some campaign.

La TaSha Levy: Teaching Freedom Summer, we start off each class with music from the civil rights era. We, you know, engaged in freedom songs just to kind of set the mood and the vibration. There is one album that we like to use as an activity that I think would be great for K-5 as well, is listening to the album, We Insist! by Max Roach. And Abbey Lincoln sings on the album. There was one song that we chose for our students that would be interesting for elementary school kids too, a song called "Triptych." And there's a point in the song where Abbey Lincoln screams. I mean, she's literally screaming.

Nicole Burrowes: It's harrowing.

La TaSha Levy: And so I imagine with young kids, you know, there might be laughter. There's definitely discomfort, and a lot of times we go to laughter when we're uncomfortable. But this—this oh, she screams for, like, two minutes almost. But then you hear the music do these twists and turns. And music invokes something in your body. And so the students really do grapple with this. There are three parts to this song, and so we asked the students to listen to the song, and to write down words to describe each part. And then they only have three words that they can use for the entire experience. We have them share their three words, so how they would describe the triptych. It's almost like poetry what they come up with.

Nicole Burrowes: I mean, one of the things I always remember, we went on a tour with Julian Bond, his actual last civil rights tour. We were able to go, and some undergraduates went with us as part of the project. But I remember him talking about how powerful music was for him, and how it helped them to confront the fear that they had. When they would sing together, that it helped to relieve the tension that they felt in their bodies and the fear, because it's not that they weren't afraid, it's just that they would always challenge the fear that they had. And they did that sometimes through song. And you can hear it when you hear some of these movement songs. Music, such a huge thing. And there's a lot of poetry from the Freedom Schools. It gives you a sense of what children were experiencing, what students were thinking about. Some of it is very painful to read, and some of it's uplifting, and some of it is just talking about the mundane, but it's a lot of different poetry from different freedom schools across the state.

Nicole Burrowes: There's one by a 15 year old, Edith Moore, one of them is called "Fight On Little Children." And she says, "Sometimes it's going to be hard. Sometimes the light will look dim. But keep it up. Don't get discouraged. Keep fighting, though chances seem slim. In the end, you and I know that one day the facts they'll face and realize we're human too, that freedom's taken slavery's place."

Nicole Burrowes: There's a list of responses from a group of Freedom School students in August of 1964. They're responding to the burning of their Freedom Schools. A lot of the schools that were set up, sometimes they were burned down. And for many of them, they were really angry. And for some of them, they're like, "Well, you know what? You burnt down our school, but you're not gonna stop our freedom." So there's one response from a 14 year old, and she says, "Burning our churches and society hall down are not going to stop us from having Freedom School, because we're going to get our freedom someday. Because they burned down our society hall, don't say we are going to stop teaching Freedom School."

Nicole Burrowes: This is one of the movements that had so many young people at the forefront. They led protests, right? They participated in a boycott. As I said, they developed newspapers that informed people about the movement. They were canvassing, doing door-knocking with their teachers and educating people, right? Children were educating their friends, their family and their neighbors. Children—not just teenagers, not just college students, but children. They were registering people to vote. They desegregated libraries, lunch counters and schools, and they faced extreme violence.

Nicole Burrowes: One of the people I love from this whole story, one of the people who trained Bob Moses was Ella Baker, right? Who helped to bring the young people together who formed SNCC, who had been in SCLC, who had been in all the major civil rights organizations at the time and said, no, we need to create a space for young people to be able to harness their energy and to be able to strategize on their own, because they're innovative and they can think and they have an analysis of what's going on. And I think that's true of young people today, that they have an analysis, they have ideas. They need someone to bring them out, to allow them to bring those things out, and to help them see the role that they can actually play in changing some of the conditions that they see themselves. I think this is one of the stories that can help us understand the role that young people can play. And it can inspire young people as it did me because I saw other young people who were my age, right, doing this kind of work and being involved in transforming the society that they were living in.

Nicole Burrowes: Liz Kleinrock has more thoughts on teaching about activism and social justice with young students. Let's take a listen.

Liz Kleinrock: So often, folks like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, become the faces of the civil rights movement, and everybody else kind of becomes like this blur in the background. But we really want to show students that it's really about the collective. It's about building capacity. It's about inspiring your entire community, your entire country. That this work doesn't just rest on the shoulders of one or two people. Also, when we elevate just one or two folks in a particular movement above all others, I feel like that level of activism almost becomes unattainable for young people. They look at people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and think, "Wow, they're really incredible. I'm so inspired. I could never be like that. I could never be on that same level," which really isn't the purpose of teaching about activism or becoming an activist. I want my students to be able to see themselves in this work, to recognize the access points where they could engage.

Liz Kleinrock: So something that I often include when working with young kids and talking about activism in the civil rights, is focusing on the children's march. The Youngest Marcher is a book by Cynthia Levinson. It's a picture book, and it focuses on a young girl who wants to go out and join the adults in her community to protest segregation, to protest for equal rights and for racial justice. And so she protests along with other students, and they end up getting imprisoned because of this, showing that kids can take a stand too, that they can march, they can protest for what they believe in. And in this case, there was an extreme personal risk that they took on to do this. I think it's very empowering for students to see that children have not always been bystanders in history, that they have been active participants in racial justice movements, too.

Liz Kleinrock: Another piece I would also suggest to teachers who want to tackle the civil rights movement with more nuance is to make sure that you're not also perpetuating this idea of racial justice work as only existing along a Black-white binary in the United States. When I was teaching in Los Angeles, most of my students identified as Latinx or Hispanic or Asian. Everyone they saw when we talked about civil rights and racism and protests was either Black or white. And many of them pointed out, "I don't see myself. Like, where would I be in this movement?" And when I was starting out as a teacher, this was something that I hadn't even been aware of, even though, like, I identify as Asian American, that I had perpetuated this erasure, too, because that wasn't the way that the civil rights movement had been taught to me. So it was really important for me to tie in, like, the Yellow Power Movement, the Brown Berets, so that all children saw that this was a collective of people of very different identities working towards a common goal of justice for everyone.

Liz Kleinrock: All students deserve icons, and all students deserve role models. And I know that as an Asian American myself, I wonder how my identity, my trajectory in life might have been impacted if I knew about people like Grace Lee Boggs or Yuri Kochiyama or Fred Korematsu growing up, if I had really strong, identifiable role models who were Asian American and took a stand against injustice. I think all students deserve that. We also have to try to dispel this myth that folks of color have always been fighting for their own movements alone, when there really has been so much collaboration and support. And I think it's really important for students to recognize those collaborations very early on.

Liz Kleinrock: I think oftentimes, we spend so much time focusing on oppression and injustice that we don't actually get to resistance and we don't get to liberation. And I think it can be really hard for young kids, if all they learn about are just the awful things that people have done to each other throughout human history, and we portray it in a way where marginalized folks are marginalized because they just sat back and took it. And that certainly isn't the case, particularly when we talk about things like enslavement. Black folks didn't just accept, well, I guess this is our lives now. People rebelled. They fought back. They did everything they could to preserve and pass down their culture, often at extremely high personal risk. So it's incredibly important to show students that, as long as there has been injustice and oppression, there has also been resistance and power and joy and culture. And as much as white supremacy, capitalism, the patriarchy, have tried to crush those of marginalized identities and our spirit, they haven't succeeded and they won't succeed either.

La TaSha Levy: Can I just say that Liz is the bomb? Oh, my gosh!

Nicole Burrowes: She absolutely is.

La TaSha Levy: I'm over here taking notes. Like, okay, I need to use her frameworks for teaching these college kids too. She's amazing. That's—that's incredible.

Nicole Burrowes: Yeah. I specifically loved how she talked about collaborations that happen across communities. I think we also tried to bring in a lot of internationalism as part of the way we taught Freedom Summer, to think about what was going on internationally at the time, and how many countries were liberating themselves from colonialism. And I think that's really an important part of this, right? Is thinking about how communities collaborated, and also the connections that they made to what was going on internationally.

La TaSha Levy: I love that she also brought out how important it is to teach the students about resistance, and it brings out the other concept or related concept, which is agency. And so, no matter how hard things may be, no matter how oppressive conditions can be, we always have agency to, you know, pool together our resources, collaborate with each other and resist.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Music was vital to the civil rights movement, and continues to be critical to global freedom struggles today. In this installment of “Movement Music,” historian Charles Hughes discusses how music can help introduce the civil rights and Black power movements to younger learners. Here’s Charles.

Charles Hughes: As we learn in this episode, the teaching of the civil rights and Black power movements to younger children poses opportunities and challenges. As usual, the music helps. It helps students access, understand and explore their relationships to the content and the feeling of Movement life.

Charles Hughes: Young children played a central role in Movement actions, most famously in Birmingham, but throughout the campaigns. Freedom songs demonstrate the energies and the strategies of marches, sit-ins, and civic actions. Songs like “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” have a rhythmic pulse, call-and-response structure, and thematic flexibility, adding verses based on local challenges or opponents, affirming for younger students the workings of Movement campaigns and the crucial role for all participants—including young people—in achieving success.

Charles Hughes: Children were part of the soundtrack of the Movement as well. James Brown’s classic 1968 anthem, “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud),” accentuates messages of love and affirmation by handing over the song’s title phrase to a children’s chorus, who answer Brown’s call with the kind of joyous energy that became aspiration and confirmation for the Black power movement. The importance of the next generation—their beauty, value and potential—was central to the Movement and the music.

Charles Hughes: Nina Simone’s hymnlike “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” from 1970, reminds listeners of any age that Black youth live a “lovely, precious dream,” despite what people say, and in defiance of societal myths. In a country which continues to deny and demonize Black youth, “Young, Gifted and Black” remains a timeless, poignant lesson for its beauty and necessity (particularly so for younger listeners and students), a corollary to James Brown for the civil rights and Black power movements.

Charles Hughes: A new generation has taken up the call. From Jaheim’s “Fabulous” to Beyonce’s “Brown Skin Girl,” the celebration of Black youth and their critical role in the ongoing freedom struggle persists as a vital element of the contemporary soundtrack. A particularly powerful example, from the brilliant collective SAULT, emerged in 2020. Firmly in the tradition of generational wisdom passed on by Nina Simone and so many others, “Little Boy” finds the vocalist reminding her subject of the pain he’ll feel from how society views him—specifically the police. But, in spite of that, how his life and identity matter.

Charles Hughes:The gentle, piano-driven arrangement emphasizes this hard lesson. The song is not a directive, but rather a loving conversation. For young folks, whose voices, music and experiences are often marginalized by the adult world, “Little Boy” reminds us how Black music provides ways to not only impart lessons onto the new generation, but also, crucially, to learn from them as well. All we need to do is keep listening.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: That Charles Hughes doesn't teach us something new about how to teach the movement with each and every episode. I can't wait to drop "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" on my students at The Ohio State University next time I teach the civil rights movement.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Be sure to check out our latest Spotify playlist. Dr. Hughes has curated dozens of songs that amplify even more of the ideas raised in this episode. Just follow the link in the show notes at Now back to Nicole Burrowes and La TaSha Levy.

Nicole Burrowes: I love hearing La TaSha Levy talk about the MFDP and Miss Fannie Lou Hamer, who is one of my favorite people to think about and talk about. So I wanted to see if you'll give us a little bit of your lessons on the MFDP.

La TaSha Levy: In 1964, as a part of the project, there was the idea to establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. This party was an alternative to the Democratic Party of the state of Mississippi, which discriminated or excluded Black people from participation. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party wasn't a real party, but was established to create mock elections, to create mock campaigns, and to run candidates. Black Mississippians, along with white allies, came together to demonstrate that not only were Black Mississippians interested in politics and aware of how politics works, but that they were taking up the challenge to model democracy in action, true democracy that was inclusive, that was true to the ideals of the nation.

La TaSha Levy: People like Fannie Lou Hamer ran for office in a fake election that more than 80,000 people participated in.

Nicole Burrowes: As you might know, Fannie Lou Hamer was a sharecropper. She was from the Delta, and she became an organizer with SNCC. And she was powerful. She was also a singer, like some people called her the voice of the movement. And she later goes on to create farming co-ops and to challenge economic injustice. She's also part of the delegation that goes to Africa after Freedom Summer, to look at what's going on over there, and to think about education and what it means to recreate systems in a place where people have been segregated and disenfranchised for much of their lives. She's this really powerful figure who's straight from the Delta, who takes on organizing and really brings a lot of people into the movement and becomes a spokesperson for the movement.

La TaSha Levy: There's wonderful footage of her on YouTube, where she's just in her house dress. Her hair would be something like we would say is unkempt. She has a gold tooth in her mouth, and she is genius.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Fannie Lou Hamer: Mississippi's still a very rough place, you know? People is not just walking up like they used to do in the past, walking out. You know, shooting a man down and getting maybe 200 or 300 people carrying out and lynching you, but it's in a more subtle way, you know? They let you starve to death, not give you jobs. These are some of the things that's happening right now in Mississippi.]

La TaSha Levy: You know, the way she speaks, the clarity of her voice and vision.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Fannie Lou Hamer: Mississippi is America's problem, because if America wanted to do something about what has been going on in Mississippi, it could have stopped by now. It wouldn't have been in the past few years between 40 and 50 churches bombed and burned. All of the burning and bombing that was done to us in the houses, nobody never said too much about that, and nothing was done. But let something be burned, you know, by a Black man, and then my God!]

La TaSha Levy: And I think it really, again, debunks what we think leadership looks like, or high intelligence political analysis. Like, she was a theorist too.

Nicole Burrowes: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.

La TaSha Levy: To see her in her house dress, you know, really breaking it down, I think is so important for young people to see.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Fannie Lou Hamer: And people ought to understand that. I don't see why they don't understand that. They know what they've done to us all across this country. They know what they've done to us. This country is desperately sick and man is on the critical list. I really don't know where we go from here.]

Nicole Burrowes: Yeah. And one of the things we always have played for the students is Fannie Lou Hamer's powerful testimony at the Democratic National Convention.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Fannie Lou Hamer: Mr. Chairman and to the Credentials Committee, my name is Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer.]

Nicole Burrowes: And you hear her talk about how she was a victim of police brutality in the 1960s.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Fannie Lou Hamer: He said, "We're gonna make you wish you were dead." I was carried out of that cell into another cell whree they had two Negro prisoners. The State Highway Patrolmen ordered the first Negro to take the blackjack. The first Negro prisoner ordered me, by orders from the State Highway Patrolman, for me to lay down on a bunk bed on my face. And I laid on my face, the first Negro began to beat. And I was beat by the first Negro until he was exhausted. I was holding my hands behind me at that time on my left side, because I suffered from polio when I was six years old. After the first Negro had beat until he was exhausted, the State Highway Patrolman ordered the second Negro to take the blackjack.]

La TaSha Levy: She really goes into great detail about her experience as a woman, suffering the brutality of police repression and brutalization.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Fannie Lou Hamer: I began to scream and one white man got up and began to beat me in my head and tell me to hush. One white man—my dress had worked up high. He walked over and pulled my dress—I pulled my dress down and he pulled my dress back up.]

La TaSha Levy: A lot of times we think of police brutality in relation to Black men. And so we're very much familiar with that history and that reality. But so many Black women like Fannie Lou Hamer were also subjected to police violence. And when she's speaking about this at the DNC, the camera veers off into the room where you see white women in particular who are just aghast at the idea that a woman especially, could be treated with such callousness and with such brutality. And so that's a really critical moment in her testimony. There's another part towards the end where she emphasizes, like, is this really America? You know, when we just want to live peaceably, to live like human beings. And even though she is really composed, some people have noted that she was, you know, so strong when she gave that testimony, but I felt like you can also sense the tension in her voice, the deep hurt and fear even of having to relive that on a national scale. And she actually breaks down and cries. It makes me think of this strong woman trope we often associate with Black women, but there's a moment there where she's, like, breaking. But she held it together because of just the magnitude of the moment to share this kind of story on a national and international stage.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, Fannie Lou Hamer: Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America? Thank you.]

La TaSha Levy: Hamer's testimony was so incredibly powerful that the president, Lyndon B. Johnson, intervened by holding a press conference which, you know, took away attention from the media. He announced some random anniversary of some event that I can't even remember, but I'm sure it wasn't even memorable at the moment in terms of the necessity of announcing it at that time. But the fact that he cut her off made people more interested in what she had to say that day.

[NEWS CLIP: We'll return to this scene in Atlantic City, but now we switch to the White House and NBC's Robert Goralski.]

La TaSha Levy: And so it's ironic that, in his quest to turn away from her story, the media actually picked it up and replayed it over and over and over again.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Educators, we have something brand new just for you. You can earn a certificate, issued by Learning for Justice, for one hour of professional development just by listening to this episode. All you have to do is go to—PD for professional development. That’s podcastpd, all one word. Then enter the special code word for this episode: "school"—all lowercase. You'll also find a link in the show notes. Now let’s continue our conversation with Dr. Burrowes and Dr. Levy.

Nicole Burrowes: One of the ways we teach Freedom Summer is we start in Mississippi, so we talk about the generations of organizing that was happening there, the leadership that was already being built, the kind of work that people were doing. And then we talk about the volunteers that were brought in from all over the country to support the work of Freedom Summer.

La TaSha Levy: The violence and death that Black people were experiencing in Mississippi at the hands of white supremacists just didn't evoke enough empathy, or did not press upon the leaders of the nation that they needed to intervene. And so then it became a question of whose bodies really matter and whose lives really matter, which is why they ended up bringing in white college students.

Nicole Burrowes: They invited hundreds of students from across the country to come and participate as volunteers, so that the world would pay attention to what was happening in Mississippi because people were dying and being killed and nobody cared. And so they wanted to bring a national spotlight to what was happening. Some people thought that it would bring protection.

La TaSha Levy: That's right.

Nicole Burrowes: And we learned very quickly that it did not bring protection. It did bring attention, but not protection, right? Movement workers were killed.

La TaSha Levy: Andrew Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were unfortunately killed. The Civil Rights Movement Veteran website has loads and loads of documents like the applications that the volunteers submitted to the Freedom Summer Project. And so there's one application from Andrew Goodman that I think is just really powerful in terms of students being able to see Andrew Goodman's handwriting, and to see him rank the type of activities that he would have liked to be engaged in. Volunteers were asked do they want to be involved in Freedom Schools or voter registration drives or talking with other whites in Mississippi about civil rights and freedom. And in that application, there's so much that you could pull out in terms of what his expectations were, where his hopes were. And in relation to that, there is a letter to his mother that's really kind of heartbreaking in that it brings those stories to life, to see that these were people who had families and had goals and really resonated with the movement in Mississippi.

Nicole Burrowes: There was also a program that was designed to help pull white Mississippians into the movement as well, the White People's Project, where they were trying to show poor white folks that they had more in common with Black folks who were disenfranchised than they did with the elites of the state. So that's another project that we don't always talk about, but it was important, is organizing in white communities where they were also disenfranchised, right? And helping them to see those connections, and not to be blinded by this idea that they were more superior or that they were connected to power because they actually weren't, right? So I think that was a critical part of it as well.

La TaSha Levy: We asked Liz to talk about the opportunity to connect the history of the movement with what young students see happening around them today. Here's what she had to say.

Liz Kleinrock: There are always opportunities to help students connect history to what's currently happening in our worlds, especially if you are a history or a social studies teacher, making sure that students know that things like racism have not gone away just because the civil rights movement happened, just because Martin Luther King gave a speech in front of a lot of people, just because Barack Obama is our first Black president of the United States. That these are certainly stepping stones towards equality and equity and justice, but it doesn't guarantee them. Civil rights is not a thing of the past. It's something that still hasn't been achieved, and it's something that we're still working for.

Liz Kleinrock: What we see now with the Black Lives Matter movement is a continuation of movements that have been around for hundreds of years. And what we see are these movements evolving the same way that racism evolves. What was once legal is technically illegal, but still permissive in so many different ways. And it's really important for students to see how this type of thinking, how biases, how racism tend to evolve to fit whatever the current context is.

Liz Kleinrock: These days, I'm thinking more about liberation and liberatory movements, and how to have these conversations with students. Like, how can we dream bigger and try to imagine a world without all these different social and political constraints? And I think so often it's so hard for adults to dream beyond what has always been seen as normalized and the status quo, the fact that we could actually choose to reject the things that have always just been given to us and we've been told this is just how the world is, make the best of it, accept it, try to navigate it the best you can, instead of saying this is wrong, we need to change it. We need to break it down and build something bigger. And I think with children, there's less jadedness, there is less unlearning that has to happen. There's always unlearning, but I think a little less when it comes to young kids. And there's often excitement about dreaming about what we could build potentially together if we all came to the agreement that certain systems are not serving people, we need to do something better in order to ensure that there's equity for everyone.

Nicole Burrowes: I think what Liz points to in that last clip is about the role of imagination and movement, and that's one of the things that is so exciting to see young people imagine a different type of world, and imagine different structures and systems that actually meet people's needs. We also use Aimé Césaire in our class, who was a Martinican poet and politician and thinker. And he always talked about the role of imagination, and that poetry can open up spaces that we've never imagined before. And so just thinking about how we can begin to really imagine something different from what we see is so critical to this kind of history, because this is what they were doing. People had to imagine that they could challenge the systems that they were confronting. They had to believe that something different could be possible. They had to believe that another world would be possible. And they created things to bring that new world into existence. Freedom Schools, the MFDP. Imagine creating an independent political party. Wow, you know? Creating school systems that actually modeled the kind of world that they wanted to see, as opposed to relying on the kind of education systems that were disenfranchising young Black people.

Nicole Burrowes: Just that role of imagination is just something that inspires me and moves me, and I love to think with students and communities around what we can build and what can we build that's different. It's always easier to tear something down than it is to build and to envision. And so I think imagination is critical in that.

La TaSha Levy: When we first taught this course, it was right before the unfolding of the Black Lives Matter movement in terms of the explosion of protests that were happening in Ferguson. And so right after the close of the course, you know, we got all these emails from students who were thanking us for having the experience, because it prepared them to think critically about the moment. It happened again last year…

Nicole Burrowes: Yes, that's what I was going to say. It happened again. Yes.

La TaSha Levy: Wow, you know, it's like you just can't even realize how much you're preparing young people to see the world clearly, and to see themselves as actors. You know, to see themselves as empowered, that they can actually do something because they understand the history, and they understand the role that young people played in creating change. And so after George Floyd was killed, and Breonna Taylor first—Ahmaud Arbery was the first person that I recognized in terms of a video going viral. Man, the explosion of protest. Those students contacted us, but they have remained in contact with each other and have supported each other, and felt like, wow, that was amazing that we actually took a moment to explore this local context that provided a foundation for us to understand what was happening in the nation and the world. That's why we teach Freedom Summer, to connect the present and the past.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: La TaSha Levy is an assistant professor of African-American studies at the University of Washington. She is the founder of Black Star Rising—a Black history education hub for teachers, parents and anyone interested in learning Black history. Dr. Levy was a 2014 fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Nicole A. Burrowes is an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University. Her current book project is Seeds of Solidarity: African-Indian Relations and the 1935 Labor Rebellions in British Guiana. She was a co-founder of the Brooklyn-based Sista II Sista Freedom School for Young Women of Color, which lasted for 12 years. Dr. Burrowes was also a 2014 fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Liz Kleinrock is an anti-bias educator and consultant in Washington, DC. She works with schools throughout the United States, developing community-specific workshops and trainings that support culturally-responsive practices. Ms. Kleinrock is a 2018 recipient of the Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Hasan Kwame JeffriesTeaching Hard History is a podcast from Learning for Justice, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center—helping teachers and schools prepare students to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Learning for Justice provides free teaching materials about slavery and the civil rights movement that include award-winning films and classroom-ready texts. You can find these online at

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Most students leave high school without an understanding of the civil rights movement and its continuing relevance. This podcast is part of an effort to change that. We began by talking about slavery for two seasons. And now we’re tracing the legacy of oppression—and resistance—into the present.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Thanks to Dr. Burrowes, Dr. Levy and Ms. Kleinrock for sharing their insights with us. This podcast was produced by Mary Quintas and senior producer Shea Shackelford. Russell Gragg is our associate producer. “Movement Music” is produced by Barrett Golding. And Gabriel Smith provides content guidance. Amelia Gragg is our intern. Our managing producer is Miranda LaFond. And Kate Shuster is our executive producer.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Our theme song is “The Colors That You Bring” by Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, who graciously let us use it for this series. Additional music is from their album Where Future Unfolds. And from Wendel Patrick's JDWP Tribute

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: If you like what you’ve heard, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And let us know what you think. You can find us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We always appreciate your feedback.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I’m Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, associate professor of history at The Ohio State University—and your host for Teaching Hard History.



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