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SNCC Outlines a "Citizenship Curriculum" for Mississippi

This curriculum was created by members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) for their Freedom Schools, part of the Freedom Summer organizing effort that brought hundreds of college students from around the country to Mississippi in the summer of 1964. SNCC hoped that the Freedom Schools would serve as a "parallel institution" to the Mississippi public schools that served African-American students poorly or not at all, and planned that they would offer both traditional academic subjects and training in activism and leadership skills. The volunteer teachers were encouraged to use participatory teaching methods that built on students' own experiences.

One of the purposes of the Freedom Schools is to train people to be active agents in bringing about social change. We have attempted to design a developmental curriculum that begins on the level of the students’ everyday lives and those things in their environment that they have either already experienced or can readily perceive, and builds up to a more realistic perception of American society, themselves, the conditions of their oppression, and alternatives offered by the Freedom Movement.

It is not our purpose to impose a particularly set of conclusions. Our purpose is to encourage the asking of questions, and hope that society can be improved.

The curriculum is divided into seven units:

  1. Comparison of student’s reality with others (the way the students live and the way others live)

  2. North to Freedom? (the Negro in the North)

  3. Examining the apparent reality (the “better lives” that whites live)

  4. Introducing the power structure

  5. The poor Negro and the poor white

  6. Material things versus soul things

  7. The movement

Each unit develops concepts that are needed for those that follow. . . .

There are two additional sets of questions THAT ARE TO BE REINTRODUCED PERIODICALLY, both permit an on-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the curriculum, and to provide students with recurring opportunities for perceiving their own growth in sophistication.


  1. Why are we (students and teachers) in Freedom Schools?

  2. What is the freedom movement?

  3. What alternatives does the freedom movement offer us?


1.  What does the majority culture have that we want?

2.  What does the majority culture have that we don't want?

3.  What do we have that we want to keep?

Source | Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, "Citizenship Curriculum," Freedom School Curriculum, 1964, available from
Creator | Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
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 | Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, “SNCC Outlines a "Citizenship Curriculum" for Mississippi,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed May 28, 2023,

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