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Nikole Hannah-Jones Launches ‘1619 Freedom School’ To Create Liberation Through Literacy

Nikole Hannah-Jones Launches ‘1619 Freedom School’ To Create Liberation Through Literacy

She’s taken her talents back home!

Nikole Hannah-Jones just launched the “1619 Freedom School” in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, KWWL News 7 reports.

Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for her “1619 Project,” released with the New York Times. Recently, she teamed up with Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate to adapt the project for film and television. The project honors the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to America. 

Now, the award-winning journalist has announced the launch of a “1619 Freedom School,” an after-school program for 4th and 5th graders that will teach Black American history with an emphasis on reading and literacy skills to students in Waterloo. The program is not affiliated with the New York Times but instead privately funded.

Its mission is to increase literacy skills among low-income children in the city. Hannah-Jones said it was vital for her to return to her hometown to launch this project and help close the literacy gap between white and Black children in Waterloo.

“The 1619 Freedom School is built on the understanding that for a people for whom it was once illegal to learn to read and write, education is a revolutionary act. A quality education has been the key to my success, and I wanted to give back to the community that raised me and to the children whose opportunities may be limited but who have potential that is limitless. Through this school, we will provide our students the type of education and support they have always deserved,” Hannah-Jones said. 

Community members and Waterloo Public School teachers will join to create and teach the curriculum, the program being housed in the historic Masonic Temple in downtown Waterloo. They are looking to expand to other locations soon. Currently, the program is interested in enrolling more educators. The 1619 Freedom School is set to open in the fall.

If you want to enroll your children in the program or are interested in becoming a teacher at the school, you can email

Congratulations, Nikole! You're continuing to make the ancestors, and your community, proud!

Photo Courtesy of Monica Schipper/Getty Images