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ERIC Number: EJ742111
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 27
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
The Birth of the Citizenship Schools: Entwining the Struggles for Literacy and Freedom
Levine, David P.
History of Education Quarterly, v44 n3 p388-414 Fall 2004
This essay focuses on the formative years of the Citizenship Training Program as a Highlander project in the Charleston area. Informally known as Citizenship Schools, this adult education program began in 1958 under the sponsorship of Tennessee's Highlander Folk School, which handed over to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1961. By the time the project ended in 1970, approximately 2500 African Americans had taught these basic literacy and political education classes for tens of thousands of their neighbors. The program never had a high profile, but civil rights leaders and scholars assert that it helped to bring many people into the movement, cultivated grassroots leaders, and increased black participation in voting and other civic activities. Here, the author aims to deepen the understanding of how an explicitly educational endeavor can nourish a movement for social justice by transforming its participants. The article explains how, through Citizenship Schools, both teachers and students increased their knowledge, expanded their problem-solving abilities, and challenged the unjust social order of the segregated South. The capacity of the schools to do so rested on three crucial ingredients: the focus that key leaders put on overcoming illiteracy to strengthen black electoral power; an interactive pedagogy that built upon the experience and culture of the students; and an explicitly political approach to education that assertively linked the acquisition of knowledge with collective efforts to overcome racism. (Contains 79 footnotes.)
History of Education Society. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Educational Policy Studies, 360 Education Building MC-708, 1310 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Tel: 217-333-2446; Fax: 217-244-7064; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Carolina