The Sankofa Freedom School (Freedom School) is a six-day, intergenerationally-focused local history program created by the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, Activate! IFC, and the Southern Vision Alliance. Taking place for its fourth year in July 2024, we developed an unforgettable experience centered on social justice, history, and identity. Applications will open in March 2024.

Core values and themes

  • Community investment
  • Community storytelling as advocacy 
  • Economic reciprocity to uplift each other to access liberation 
  • Freedom’s context
  • Intergenerational lenses
  • Local community engagement to raise and elevate young folks
  • Maintaining enough grit to put all of that into action
  • Sankofa: uplifting past experiences to guide our future movements
  • Self-determination and autonomy: focusing on the idea of being able to determine one’s future and decide whether something is good for oneself
  • The importance of political power 

Target age

Thirty students from ages 14 to 19 years old attend 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.

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 various organizations such as the NAACP and SNCC. Since then, freedom schools have propped up elsewhere across the country, primarily concentrated in the South. Freedom schools today continue to offer crucial alternative education to young folks.


We especially thank our previous partners for their contributions to Freedom School. This includes but is not limited to Activate! IFC, Chapel of the Cross, Ms. Danita Mason-Hogans, Je Naé Taylor, The Pauli Murray Center and Whistle Stop Tours, Southern Vision Alliance, 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.