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Prospectus for a Summer Freedom School Program in Mississippi (Excerpt)

This plan, written by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) member Charles Cobb, proposed that SNCC include Freedom Schools as part of the massive organizing effort it was planning for the summer of 1964. SNCC was creating Freedom Summer to bring hundreds of college students from around the country to Mississippi, and Cobb believed that some of these students could be put to good use helping African-American youth develop their own organizing and leadership capacity.

. . . In our work, we have several concerns oriented around Mississippi Negro students:

  1. The need to get into the schools around the state and organize the students, with the possibility of a statewide coordinated student movement developing.
  2. A student force to work with us in our efforts around the state.
  3. The responsibility to fill an intellectual and creative vacuum in the lives of young Negro Mississippians, and to get them to articulate their own desires, demands and questions. More students need to stand up in classrooms around the state, and ask their teachers a real question. . . .

I would like to propose summer Freedom Schools during the months of July and August, for tenth and eleventh-grade high school students, in order to:

  1. supplement what they aren’t learning in high schools around the state.
  2. give them a broad intellectual and academic experience during the summer to bring back to fellow students in classrooms in the state, and
  3. form the basis for statewide student action such as school boycotts, based on their increased awareness. . . .


I. Leadership development
a. to give students the perspective of being in a long line of protest and pressure for social and economic justice (i.e. to teach Negro history and the history of the movement.)

b. to educate students in the general goals of the movement, give them wider perspectives (enlarged social objectives, nonviolence, etc.)

c. to train students in the specific organizational skills that they need to develop Southern Negro communities:

  1. public speaking
  2. handling of press and publicity
  3. getting other people to work
  4. organizing mass meetings and workshops, getting speakers, etc.
  5. keeping financial records, affidavits, reports, etc.
  6. developing skill in dealing with people in the community
  7. canvassing
  8. duplicating techniques, typing, etc.

d. to plan with each other further action of the student movement.

II. Remedial Academic Program

a. to improve comprehension in reading, fluency and expressiveness in writing.

b. to improve mathematical skill (general arithmetic and basic algebra and geometry.)

c. to fill the gaps in knowledge of basic history and sociology, especially American.

d. to give a general picture of the American economic and political system.

e. to introduce students to art, music and literature of various classical periods, emphasizing distinctive features of each style.

f. to generate knowledge of and ability to use the scientific method.

III. Contemporary Issues

a. to give students more sophisticated views of some current issues.

b. to introduce students to thinking of local difficulties in a context of national problems.

c. to acquaint students with procedures of investigating a problem—rudimentary research.

IV. Non-academic Curriculum

a. to allow students to meet each other as completely as possible, in order to form a network of student leaders who know each other.

b. to give students experience in organization and leadership

  1. field work—voter registration
  2. student publications
  3. student government

c. to improve their ability to express themselves formally (through creative writing, drama, talent shows, semi-spontaneous discussions, etc.)

Source | Charles Cobb, "Prospectus for a Summer Freedom School Program," December 1963, Freedom School Curriculum,
Creator | Charles Cobb
Rights | Permission to use this document was obtained from Education and Democracy. See Education and Democracy to obtain permission to republish or use this document for anything other than non-commerical educational purposes.
Item Type | Pamphlet/Petition
Cite This document | Charles Cobb, “Prospectus for a Summer Freedom School Program in Mississippi (Excerpt),” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed March 2, 2024,

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