Prof lauds return of post-Civil War-era 'Freedom Schools,’ endorses 1619 Project

A University of Illinois professor applauded legislation that would fund Civil War-era "freedom schools," in the state of Illinois, while commending the work of the New York Times' 1619 Project.

The University of Illinois promoted the professor's comments on its official website.

A professor celebrated a bill to create “freedom schools” in Illinois and endorsed the goals of the 1619 Project.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign published on its website an interview with Jon Hale — a history professor — who explained that following the Civil War, the term “freedom school” was used “because formerly enslaved persons worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau to build schools for African Americans, often leading the efforts.” The schools utilized educational opportunities for “freedom, liberation and the pathway to full citizenship.”

Hale referred Campus Reform to information about a freedom school in Washington, D.C., for additional context into the goals of freedom school programs. In addition to literature programs, the school in Washington focuses on leading children in “multicultural social justice” work and a National Day of Social Action.

[RELATED: As AOC calls for ‘media literacy’ commission, colleges push New York Times’ debunked 1619 Project]

Illinois HB 2170, establishes a “Freedom School Fund.” According to the legislation — which passed the Illinois House and Senate — the schools will take the form of six-week summer programs that focus on “racial justice and equity.”

Hale explained that the schools would “offer a new way of teaching” by asking “the larger democratic questions.” He said he hopes that the bill is signed into law and puts Illinois “in a progressive national leadership role.”

In the interview, Hale also endorsed the 1619 Project while condemning the 1776 Commission.

“The 1776 Commission’s history curriculum was a reactionary response to the 1619 Project, which accurately states that the U.S. was built on slavery, racism and economic exploitation, and asserts that unless we recognize that, we are not going to heal and move forward as a nation,” Hale said.

[RELATED: Universities pushed debunked 1619 Project. Will they also teach the 1776 Report?]

He also cast doubt on the notion that “the nation was founded on the principle of equality.”

Hale instead lauded The New York Times’ 1619 Project, which “was created by a multiracial, award-winning panel of journalists, historians and authors grounded in the civil rights tradition.”

“While the project’s curriculum was disputed by some historians, the consensus was that it was not only historically valid, but something we need to do if we are to improve as a country and actualize the ideals outlined in the U.S. Constitution,” he continued.

Campus Reform recently interviewed National Association of Scholars President Peter Wood, who wrote a response to the project entitled 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Scholar counters claims of 1619 Project in new book]

Contrary to the claims of Hale and other academics, Wood stated that “we are a nation that achieved a higher level of equality among people who were originally unequal.”

Campus Reform reached out to Hale for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft