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July 7, 2014

Faith in action with Freedom Schools

Revival of old civil-rights-era idea is benefits urban kids on both sides of the state line.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, the name given to the efforts of young volunteers who traveled to the South, mainly Mississippi, to help register African-Americans to vote. It was 1964, when the civil rights movement was in full flower.

Freedom Schools were part of that initiative. The idea, in addition to academic development, was to foster political participation among young people who would be exercising their voting rights in a way their parents never could. Those schools died out eventually, but the name lives on in a summer education program that is the subject of this week’s cover story in the 816 news magazine.

Writer Roxie Hammill takes us to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church at 22nd and Olive streets, one of six places where Freedom Schools have opened this summer in the two Kansas Citys. I was gratified to read about parents who believe in education and embrace an environment where their children not only can learn in an informal atmosphere but also gain the confidence they need to try new things and aim higher.

Although two Freedom Schools are operated by Kansas City Public Schools, some others are offered at churches, a fine example of faith in action.

As you will read, the recession took a toll on the local Freedom Schools movement, but its leaders believe Freedom Schools are positioned now for growth. As churches look for ways to make an impact in their community, this is one avenue to consider.

To reach Elaine Adams, call 816-234-4732 or send email to eadams@kcstar.com.

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