November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Throwback Thursday: The Freedom Libraries of Mississippi

In the summer of 1964, more than 1,000 volunteers converged on Mississippi to help register African Americans to vote. Among those volunteers was Frederick W. Heinze, who worked with the Council of Federated Organization’s (COFO) Mississippi project, helping establish Freedom Schools, which included providing library services for black children in one of the most segregationist states in the South.

Heinze documented these efforts in an article for School Library Journal. Published in the April 1965 issue, “The Freedom Libraries” is a remarkably matter-of-fact account of a watershed moment in the American civil rights movement, underscored by a strong sense of purpose in turning around entrenched inequities through education and literacy.

Click on the below image to access the full article, which includes an image of COFO’s Vicksburg Freedom House after it was bombed in October 1964. The Nassau-Suffolk School Library Association in New York contributed to a rebuilding fund and sent books to Vicksburg, including works by Ezra Jack Keats.


Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka ( on Twitter) is the Executive Editor of  School Library Journal.