Meet the Trailblazing Scholars at the Helm of Akwaaba Freedom School in Gainesville, Florida

GAINESVILLE, FL. (EEF News) –  The Akwaaba Freedom School in Gainesville, Florida is a remarkable institution led by two exceptional University of Florida scholars, Dr. Taryrn T.C. Brown and Dr. Chonika Coleman-King. The school provides culturally responsive education to Black children, drawing from the traditions of the Civil Rights Movement and the Freedom Schools of the 1960s. The leaders of this school are committed to advancing equity-centered educational initiatives, and their work is rooted in Black girlhood studies, Black feminist thought, and critical qualitative methodologies.

Overall, the Freedom Schools of 1964 were an important and impactful part of the Civil Rights Movement, helping to promote education, empowerment, and social justice for African American students in Mississippi and beyond.

The Freedom Schools of 1964 were important for several reasons. They were a part of the larger Civil Rights Movement and were established in Mississippi during the summer of 1964 as part of the Freedom Summer project.

Here are some of the reasons why the Freedom Schools were important:

  1. They provided education to African American students who were denied access to quality education due to segregation and discrimination.
  2. They were established as an alternative to the inadequate and segregated public schools that African American students were forced to attend.
  3. The Freedom Schools provided a safe and empowering space for African American students to learn about their history, culture, and political rights.
  4. The schools helped to develop a sense of community and collective action among African American students.
  5. The Freedom Schools were part of a broader effort to challenge segregation and discrimination in the United States and promote social justice and equality.

The work of Dr. Taryrn T.C. Brown and Dr. Chonika Coleman-King is critical in advancing equity-centered education for Black children. Their research and leadership at the University of Florida and Akwaaba Freedom School is an important contribution to the field of education and should not be missed. The Akwaaba Freedom School is sponsored by Children’s Trust of Alachua County, PK Yonge Developmental Research School, Alachua County Public Schools and the UF Collaborative for Equity in Education.

Tune into their interview on Saturday, April 15, on Powerstation 92.1 FM and 900 AM at noon to learn more about their work and the impact of culturally responsive education.

Who is Dr. Taryn Brown?

Dr. Taryrn T.C. Brown is an Assistant Professor in the Teachers, Schools, and Society program at the University of Florida, where she is also the Program Coordinator for the Schools, Society, and Policy Specialization in Education Sciences. Dr. Brown’s research focuses on the intersection of gender, race, and class in the lives of Black women and girls, with an emphasis on the amplification of their voices in prevention science. She also studies the role of parents, schools, and communities in the socialization, literacies, and identity construction of Black girls. Her work is grounded in Black feminist theory, ecological systems theory, Black girl literacies, and Black girl cartography, and she employs critical qualitative methodologies such as youth participatory action research, photovoice, photo elicitation, and critical autoethnography. Dr. Brown is the founder of the Black Girlhood Collaborative, which is a collective space for research, teaching, and learning in Black girlhood.

Who is Dr. Chonika Coleman-King?

Dr. Chonika Coleman-King is an Assistant Professor of Teachers, Schools, and Society at the University of Florida, where she also serves as the Director of the Collaborative for Equity in Education. She is the Executive Director of the Akwaaba Freedom School and the Coordinator for Curriculum and Research for UF’s equity-centered elementary teacher education program. Dr. Coleman-King’s research interests include the development of anti-racist teachers, culturally responsive STEM education, Black mothering, and the experiences of Black immigrant and Black American youth in U.S. schools. She is also the author of the book, The (Re-)Making of a Black American: Tracing the Racial and Ethnic Socialization of Caribbean American Youth.

How can I enroll my child in the Akwaaba Freedom School?

Akwaaba means welcome in the Twi language, spoken by the Akan People of Ghana. Like the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality, the Akwaaba Freedom School is a welcoming space for all children. Faculty at the University of Florida College of Education have partnered with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) to launch the Akwaaba Freedom School in Gainesville, Florida. Akwaaba Freedom School is one of over 150 Freedom Schools across the country that are sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund.

Program Dates: June 12th – July 21st, 2023  (Monday – Friday from 8AM – 3PM)


Tune in every Saturday at noon EST to listen to a live show on 92.1 FM in Gainesville, FL, 900 AM in Ocala, FL, or online here. Call in and talk on air at 352-420-0935.

Become a radio show partner here.

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The Education Equalizer Foundation works with middle through high school students and their families to demystify the college admittance process and provide scholars with the necessary tools to graduate.

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