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Freedom Schools build readers and leaders

Terrick Gutierrez, in the red shirt, takes part in "Harambee," which means "let's pull together" in Swahili, at the Freedom Schools summer camp in South Los Angeles. (Photo: SUSAN FREY/EDSOURCE TODAY)

Terrick Gutierrez, in the red shirt, takes part in “Harambee,” which means “let’s pull together” in Swahili, at the Freedom Schools summer camp in South Los Angeles. (Photo: SUSAN FREY/EDSOURCE TODAY)

More than 100 African-American and Latino students mill around a South Los Angeles high school gymnasium, talking and greeting each other on a summer morning. But at 8:30 a.m., they begin clapping and chanting, coalescing into a pulsating, high-energy force. 

“G-o-o-d-m-o-r-n-i-n-g Good morning!” they shout. Clapping, then raising their fists, they are on the move, some circling the gym, some weaving in and out, all laughing. A group of older boys raise a younger boy up high. Clap. Clap. “P-o-w-e-r. We got the power! Good morning!”

Each day of this eight-week summer camp for 3rd- through 12th-grade students begins with group chanting called “Harambee” or “let’s pull together” in Swahili. The camp is part of Freedom Schools, a national summer program that helps low-income African-American and Latino students build their literacy skills, understand their history and become leaders in their schools and communities.

The Freedom Schools program at Middle College High School in South Los Angeles is one of 15 in California and 132 across the nation sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. The fund started the Freedom Schools summer program in the 1990s.

Read the full story on EdSource California.

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