The Sankofa Freedom School is a six-day, intergenerationally focused local history program that takes place each summer in Chapel Hill. Students from all four local high schools come together for an unforgettable experience centered on social justice, local history, and identity. Sankofa, from the Akan people in Ghana, refers to the practice of uplifting past experiences to guide our future movements.

Core Values & Themes

  • Community: storytelling as advocacy, local engagement, and investment in youth
  • Reciprocity: uplifting each other economically to access liberation
  • Self-determination: engaging autonomy to determine our own future
  • Political power: maintaining grit and resilience to put ideas into action
  • Freedom: intergenerational perspectives on struggles for liberation

Apply to Sankofa Freedom School

Applications open each March and are reviewed on a rolling basis.

History of Sankofa Freedom School

Through more than a decade of engaging students of all ages across Chapel Hill and Carrboro with our Learning Across Generations curriculum, we noticed that some students feel tension in a classroom setting and that conversations sometimes happen differently when teachers aren’t in the space. We asked: What would it look like to create an educational space for local students that isn’t a traditional classroom? In partnership with Activate! IFC and the Southern Vision Alliance, MCJC launched Sankofa Freedom School.

History of Freedom Schools

Freedom Schools blossomed out of the 1960s Civil Rights era as initiatives to liberate students from the confines of formal education that largely dismissed their experiences and identities. The 1964 Freedom Summer Project in Mississippi was the first known freedom school in the U.S., coordinated by organizations including the NAACP and SNCC. Since then, freedom schools have popped up across the country, primarily concentrated in the U.S. South. Today, freedom schools continue to offer crucial alternative education to young folks.


Thirty students ages 14-19 attend Sankofa Freedom School from nearly every high school in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System. Five high school students comprise the Youth Approval Committee, which collaborates material for the program. Partners and guest speakers of all ages contribute to Freedom School.


We could not do this work without the contributions of many incredible partners, including Activate! IFC, Southern Vision Alliance, Chapel of the Cross, Ms. Danita Mason-Hogans, Je Naé Taylor, The Pauli Murray Center and Whistle Stop Tours, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Holy Trinity Church, Well Co., Brandwein’s Bagels, Vimala’s Curry Blossom Cafe, Carburritos, Dame’s Chicken and Waffles, Gratas, Mediterranean Deli, and Weaver Street Market.


Contact Aisha Booze-hall or Joshua Norrell to learn more about Sankofa Freedom School and MCJC’s other educational initiatives.

Support Sankofa Freedom School

Help us educate and empower the next generation of leaders. Donations are tax-deductible.