On Thursday, Jan. 23, the Center for Peace and Justice Education held the annual Freedom School sessions in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Members of the University crowded into several rooms in the Connelly Center from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., eager to experience the Freedom School. The presentations were structured as both typical lecture-style speeches and interactive activities, designed to involve the audience and allow them a more interactive approach on the specific topic. A few titles of the presentations included “Student Solidarity Against Sweatshops,” “Interrupting White Fragility,” “Racism, College Sports and Admissions Scandals” and “Combating Anti-Immigrant Sentiment on Campus.” 

The Freedom School sessions at the University are modeled after the Freedom Schools created during the 1960s. Carol Anthony, Associate Director for the Center for Peace and Justice Education and Faculty and Student Group Coordinator, explained that “the sessions serve to expand and extend MLK’s vision of justice to the many different manifestations of inequity and violence in our world today.” The main goal of the freedom sessions is to allow the community an opportunity to gather together for the purpose of learning, growing and understanding their roles in the world today.

The Freedom School, open to all students, faculty and staff at the University, offered everyone the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics. With five presentations held during each of the four time slots and around 100 attendees in each slot, the rooms in the Connelly Center were packed. The Freedom School sessions, lasting about an hour, were taught by the University’s undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff. A few general examples of the topics covered were immigration, race, faith, human rights and many more. The presentations covered topics that members of the University truly cared about. The topics were not just created by the Center for Peace and Justice Education, but by the entirety of Villanova’s campus. Beginning this past November, students, faculty and staff were all welcomed and encouraged to offer suggestions for session topics. 

The sessions had a great impact the many who attended. “For me, I love the array of sessions that are offered, along with the different people who can teach us about some aspect of our world we may not know and inspire us to get more engaged in the world,” Anthony said.