“Education: A Civil Right and a Personal Responsibility” is a 2014 documentary produced by McComb Legacies students on the 50th anniversary of Freedom Schools. The documentary—produced by Raykesha Carter, Damion Jordan, Courtney Coney, and Zaccheus McEwen—was entered and won at the Mississippi state level of the National History Day competition.
Three of the film’s producers and their teacher Karman Butler traveled to Washington, D.C. to share the film in schools and museums and to compete at National History Day. McEwen, Jordan, and Carter had also been involved in the production and presentation last year of a documentary on voting rights.
To assist with their understanding of Freedom Schools, the students consulted directly with two key contacts: Charles Cobb, Jr. who wrote the original proposal for Freedom Schools and Kathy Emery who has produced a website and book with the full Freedom School curriculum.
The 10-minute documentary film can be viewed in full here.
As Damion Jordan explained when the film was presented at the African American Civil War Museum:
In the previous year of McComb Legacies, as we were discussing the theme of voting rights, we all began to brainstorm for the 2013-2014 school year.
As we brainstormed, many things came across our minds about our own education in school today and also the 50th anniversary of Freedom Schools.
We started in the summer of 2013 with our annual McComb Legacies summer youth institute. We wrote and shared poetry and learned local history—just as they did in the original Freedom Schools.
We also conducted interviews and traveled to the Delta.
After the summer, our tasks were not complete.
We continued to learn, write, and ultimately document our knowledge into this documentary you are about to see.
Raykesha Carter shared why the topic of Freedom Schools was so important to students today:
Education is the one thing that cannot be taken from you.
One thing that is still present in Mississippi’s school system is not learning how to survive in society, but instead to learn how to pass a test.
Freedom Schools not only taught literacy but they allowed students to formulate their own way of thinking while helping them become leaders in their city and proud citizens.
I would rather for children to learn how to survive and be an active citizen than just learn tests that you’ll never take again after high school.
The students will continue to show the film at local and statewide events to raise awareness about the history of education and promote dialogue about a positive role for education in the future.