This Summer 2015, the Roots for Peace Program hosted a group of youth to join our first Freedom School. Gaining inspiration from AFSC Freedom Schools across the country, and eager to bring youth across various communities in LA together to address common issues impacting their neighborhoods, we spent nine beautiful days working towards personal and collective freedom.
As we prepared for the program we asked ourselves:
“Is the curriculum diverse enough to connect to each of our lives and our diverse learning strengths? How are the activities making the youth feel included, connected to each other, and safe enough to speak their own truths? How are we making connections to what’s happening in the US, CA, and Los Angeles? What incentives can we have for youth to feel good about spending this summer in Freedom School?”
We had to have hope, and be intentional in our planning to make sure we were addressing these questions even if we didn’t have answers to them until we were in it! Slowly, we saw the curriculum support relationship building, inclusion, and conversations around individual and familial struggles – including racism, policing, gentrification, and migrant and gender injustice.
Day 1 – Introduction to Freedom Schools
Day 2 – Racism, Colonialism and Resistance
Day 3 – Migrant Justice
Day 4 – School to Prison Pipeline and Transformative Justice
Day 5 – Gender Justice
Day 6 – Gentrification, Displacement, and Listening to Stories of Home in Lincoln Heights
Day 9 – Celebration and Next Steps
There was a general feeling of being understood (I’m not the only one), compassion (this may not impact me but I do care), and empowerment (let’s do something to change this). Not only all did youth complete the program – students asked if it could be extended! Plans for continuing to work together are on their way.
Of course, Freedom School couldn’t have been possible without the many people that we talked to, planned with, and who supported the program in many ways from beginning to end. We are grateful for the facilitators, volunteers, groups, and organizations that made this powerful collective experience possible!
Special shout out to the following people/groups for their support:
- Abraham Colunga and Team, Youth Justice Coalition
- Arturo Romo, Art Teacher and Facilitator
- Miguel, NELAA Organizer
- Armando Rodriguez & Johanna Larios, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
- Eisha Mason and Sarah Beth Horan, AFSC West Coast
- Mayra Gallardo, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund
- Nasreen Popat, Gender Justice Facilitator
- Paulina Pina Garcia, Progressive Christians United
- Ruth Ellis, Center for Collaborative Education
- Tamika Butler, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
- Tony Tizcareno, Volunteer