Nikole Hannah-Jones Launches 1619 Freedom School in Iowa

The after-school program, which is not affiliated with the 1619 Project, will begin in Hannah-Jones' hometown of Waterloo, IA. The curriculum will be available for free to anyone next year.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her work on the New York Times Magazine's The 1619 Project, announced the founding of the 1619 Freedom School in Waterloo, IA, in a series of tweets.

“It’s not enough to succeed if your community is struggling,” she tweeted. “You have to try to pull people up with you. I am so proud to announce the launch of the 1619 Freedom School in my hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, labeled in 2018 the worst place in U.S. to be Black.

“I used many lessons learned from years of reporting on segregated, high-poverty schools to found the 1619 Freedom School, a free, after-school program that infuses intensive literacy instruction with a Black history curriculum. Our motto: Liberation Through Literacy.

“Our curriculum, custom-designed by educators from Georgetown and the University of Missouri, will be made available as free and open source for anyone who wants to teach it beginning in 2022.

“The 1619 Freedom School is not affiliated with the 1619 Project but its Black History literacy curriculum is particularly important now when states, including Iowa where it’s located, are trying to ban the teaching of histories that center that Black experience.

“Every student in our program will get a take-home library to keep. If you’re interested in supporting, you can donate to our Liberation Libraries. I am hopeful and grateful.”

The 1619 Freedom School is a five-day-a-week after-school program "dedicated to delivering intensive literacy instruction and a culturally responsive curriculum to bridge the academic opportunity gap among low-income public school students," according to the school's website. In its inaugural year, it will serve Walter Cunningham Elementary, "Waterloo’s highest poverty and most segregated school," according to the website.

The program will begin with fourth graders and expand to other grades and schools. The Freedom School will not use government funding but instead rely on donors, who can support general operating expenses or “Buy a Shelf” of books for the Liberation Library at the 1619 Freedom School, according to the press release announcing the program.

See the full press release below.


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