She who learns, teaches: black women teachers of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom schools Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 22, 2019
  • Moore, Kristal Tatianna Joann
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • In this dissertation I examine Black women's experiences as teachers in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools. The southern-based Black Freedom Movement of the early 1960s negotiated the implications of gender in addition to setting out to dismantle White supremacy in the South (Ransby, 2003). The emergence of women leaders transformed the gender relations within the movement. Activist community educators like Ella Baker and Septima Clark developed curricula that infused radical pedagogy, epistemology, and worldview. My research questions are: 1) How did women develop ways of knowing about teaching, activism, culture and womanhood? 2) What were the significant ideological contributions of Black women educators enacted in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools? 3) How did teachers conceive of a curriculum that separated Freedom Schools from other modes of schooling? This study utilizes Black feminist theory as a lens to articulate how Black women develop special standpoints on self, family, and society. This ethnohistorical study begins by reviewing previous work on the Mississippi Freedom Schools. Then the study provides a historical overview of the education of African Americans in Mississippi. Finally, a historical portrait of the African American women teachers of the Mississippi Freedom Schools is offered. Oral histories reveal the former teachers' teaching experiences exposing themes of pride, community involvement, activist education, and collective memory. This study is important because it offers a portrait of the African American women teachers who put their lives on the line to educate Mississippi's youth. My study provides a counter-narrative from the research participants describing what it was like to be African American and female during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. This study pushes women who worked within the confines of the Mississippi Freedom Summer from the margins to the center. This study also works to reconstruct educational history to include the experiences of Freedom School teachers in the modern civil rights movement of the United States.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Noblit, George W.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

This work has no parents.