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Clemente Writings

Freedom School

When you enter the building, you hear the thunderclaps of hands and voices singing to the heavens, cheers and chants that get you on your feet to start your morning. This is how we begin our day at Freedom School of Boston, a branch from the original Freedom School. The program got its start in 1964 in the rural south of Mississippi, where the children of African Americans were not getting the same education as their counterparts. 

This program is rooted in love and family, and that is what it has become. It is a place where children not only read about their rich history and culture, but where their self-esteem can thrive. Through the Freedom School, they can go into a community or home and share not only what they learned about that day, but also how they were loved that day. 

For example, on Wednesday nights the program has family night, where you share with your kids and family a meal, which the family prepared the night before, and talk about what they made. Then, after you sit down to eat, the parents go off to a class or gym where different speakers come to talk to them. They may take CPR classes and things of that nature. Then, at a certain time during the day, the fresh truck comes. This is an old school bus turned into a market, where you can get fresh fruit and veggies for not only Freedom School families, but also the community.

My family and I have been a part of this program since 2014. We started off with just fifty to sixty kids, and within one year we jumped to 150 or 200 kids, and that was just by word of mouth about how good the program is. Since my kids have been a part of the program, their reading levels and test scores have gone up because of it. Their self-esteem and confidence have gone up, too. When my kids came to the program, the school officials asked them to think about these claims:

1.  I can make a difference in myself

2. I can make a difference in my family

3. I can make a difference in my community

4. I can make a difference in my country

5. I can make a difference in my world

6. I can make a difference with hope, education and action. 

Now, who wouldn’t want more of that, not only in their community, but in the world?

Amelia Lewis: I’m a Dorchester native who is the mom of three beautiful kids ages 11, 12 and 14. I love music and a good action movie. I also love to read and just hang out.

We, Too, Are America is made possible through “Democracy and the Informed Citizen,” an initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Council through a grant from the Mellon Foundation.

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