‘All Pull Together’: Davidson College Freedom Schools in Photos

Students cheering while kids are in the background in a gym

Kellyn West ’25 and Breanna Suarez ’25 lead activities during Harambee, a raucous morning ritual that gets the scholars hyped to start the day.

In a newly remodeled gymnasium at the Ada Jenkins Center, the sound of children’s voices bounce off of the walls, as they jump and dance alongside the college students who are guiding them through the six-week summer literacy program.

As scholars in the Brenda H. Tapia CDF Freedom Schools at Davidson College, they encounter a wide variety of stories through books, engage in art and physical activities, and explore the world around them on field trips.

Scholars range in grade from kindergarten through eighth, but all start the day in the gymnasium with breakfast and Harambee, which means “all pull together” in Kiswahili. Guest readers join the daily ritual of singing, dancing and storytelling.

The Freedom Schools program, based on the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, was developed by the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) in 1995 to address equity issues within the U.S. education system. In 2005, Davidson College became the first higher education institution to sponsor a Freedom Schools program. Davidson College students, who lead the activities and lessons, are trained as servant leaders by the Children’s Defense Fund. 

The 2023 Freedom Schools session ended July 21 with a finale celebration featuring performances and the scholars’ artwork in the E. Craig Wall Jr. Academic Center McKay Atrium. 

Students playing with ball together on grass field

Nasir Jean-Paul ’24 jumps into an outdoor activity with the scholars.

A young woman leads students in exercise in gym

Jowette Bobray, coordinator of Freedom Schools, gets everyone’s attention as Harambee winds down. Bobray is Davidson College’s assistant director for civic engagement.

Freedom Schools has been a beautiful and rewarding experience. Freedom Schools allowed me to form wonderful relationships with my scholars throughout the summer. Over the past two years, I have been able to fine tune my skills in teaching and practices of mindfulness and patience. Freedom Schools is a highlight of my summer, and I will miss my scholars very much!

Breanna Suarez ’25
Students in a gym standing on basketball court

From left, Sophia Hood ’24, Kellyn West ’25 and Emma Kitchen ’26 take part in the fun in the newly remodeled gymnasium at the Ada Jenkins Center.

a staff member reads a book to students sitting in a gym

Davidson College’s Ashley Bodie, who works at the Matthews Center for Career Development, reads to the Freedom Schools scholars. In the background is Nasir Jean-Paul ’24.

Students and kids play together in a gym

Harambee fun with, from left, Nasir Jean-Paul ’24, Kellyn West ’25 and Emma Kitchen ’26.

We got to read different books. I enjoyed Harambe and the fun games. The food was good too!

Jordan Heath, Freedom Schools Scholar and Rising 5th Grader
A student smiles while holding a drum

Nasir Jean-Paul ’24 helps get the Freedom School scholars hyped for Harambee.

A student stands with two kids holding a ball

Nasir Jean-Paul ’24 guides scholars through outdoor art activities.

A student and a child smile together with a red brick wall behind them

Sophia Hood ’24 with a Freedom School scholar.

A student and a child exercise together in a gym

Davidson College students receive training from the Children’s Defense Fund to act as servant leaders for the summer program.


  • July 31, 2023