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Jackson Peoples School

Authors: Caroline Ponder*, University of British Columbia
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: education
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


During the Civil Rights Movement, informal and alternative spaces of education for children impacted by Jim Crow schooling policies arose from self determined Black communities, eventually becoming institutionalized in the form of Freedom Schools. Freedom Schools blended political and pragmatic educational models, teaching participants about their civil and human rights as well as how to calculate figures. In the contemporary education landscape, Black school children are again subject to substantially unequal schooling experiences, this time through growing disinvestment and de facto rather than du jour practices of segregation. The Jackson People’s School project is an emergent strategy rooted in Jackson, MS, inspired by the Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights Era. The purpose of Jackson People’s Schools is to create critical learning spaces that center the dignity and intellect of Black children through place-based after school and holiday programs and summer initiatives. The intention is for Jackson People’s School content to serve as supplements to Jackson Public School district curriculum, addressing topics often omitted by public schools (e.g. Black Power and land ownership) and introducing the cultures, legacies, and people’s histories of Jackson and greater Mississippi. This is a collective, collaborative and deeply Jackson/Mississippi centered process that is being built by a Jackson public school teacher, a MS black author, members of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Jackson Chapter, MS Votes - a statewide civic engagement space, academic allies from FSU and Rutgers, members of the Mayor’s Transition Team for Public Education and the Jackson PTA.

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