Theses Doctoral

“Go Back And Get It: An Excavation of Conceptions of Teacher Education and Black Education in the Mississippi Freedom Schools of 1964”

Howell, Lakisha

This ethnohistorical study returns to a historical site of Black education, The Mississippi Freedom Schools (MFS) of 1964, to excavate conceptions of teacher education and Black education held by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) a predominantly Black social movement organization. The MFS served as an alternative site of education for Black children across the state of Mississippi that, unlike public school, placed the lives of Black children and the movement for Black liberation at the center of learning.

Through an analysis of digital archival documents, secondary sources, and interviews this dissertation is segmented into two sections of historical findings. Part I begins with a series of narratives recounting a racialized history of teacher education, the journey of Black education in America, and the origin of SNCC. The second section details the foundational values of teacher education, answers the question, “What counted as teacher education?”, and derives the essential components of Black education all held by SNCC.

By illuminating these conceptions this study aims to inform and transform the trajectory of not only how teachers are prepared to teach Black children, but also inform the broader field of education as it relates to education policy, curriculum, and teacher education program design. This study found that the foundational values of teaching and teacher education held by SNCC required teachers to interrogate and confront their deepest perceptions of Black folk, demands that teachers release ego and hero archetypes, and that teacher education actively disrupt traditional teacher-student binaries. Additionally, this study found that SNCC believed that a shattering of perceived realities and ideological foundations, a theoretical understanding of the Black American experience, and a knowledge of both the historical and current context of Mississippi counted as teacher education.

Lastly, this dissertation found, according to SNCC, Black education served as a confirmation of youth’s lived experiences in an inequitable society, to demystify the functions of society that leads to oppression, aimed to dispel anti-Black myths and supplement the erasure of Blackness in school curriculum, and worked to cultivate an activist mindset and skillset.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Paula Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 15, 2022