The AFSC Tyree Scott Freedom School provides people with a framework for undoing institutional racism. The curriculum follows in the footsteps of freedom schools of the Civil Rights Movement, promoting healing and giving young people a sense of their own power. As a next step, participants can build their organizing skills in the Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) program, which draws on the principles of the New Orleans-based People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Youth meet weekly to design and lead campaigns to dismantle the birth-to-prison pipeline and other forms of oppression. 

In one recent victory, three years of intense pressure from YUIR and allied activists brought significant changes to the plans for a new juvenile detention center in Seattle. The center’s bed-count will be reduced by one-third; incarceration for status offences such as truancy will stop; and incarceration for probation violations will be cut by 50 percent. We now also provide Tyree Scott Freedom School trainings and regular YUIR meetings for multigenerational organizing in five cities: Seattle, St. Louis, St. Paul, Charleston, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh. 

Peace by Piece (PxP) developed in 2010 in New Orleans as a way for youth to address violence using artistic expression. This created a natural bridge into social justice work. As police violence has sparked outrage across the country in a series of high-profile incidents, AFSC has used Peace by Piece as a model for positive organizing. The model has been replicated in Baltimore, Atlanta, Mississippi, Washington, D.C., and San Diego.

  • Three young people sit on the ground together.
    Youth learn to address Dr. Martin Luther King’s three pillars of institutional racism: militarism, capitalism, and structural racism. Photo: AFSC Seattle
  • Two young men and a woman pose together for a photo.
    Famed activist Angela Davis attended a 2013 YUIR event in Seattle, inspiring a new generation of organizers for justice.
  • Two young men next to one another.
    Programs at AFSC’s Tyree Scott Freedom School in St. Paul, Minn., contribute to that city’s leadership in many restorative justice practices. Photo: Nancy Wong
  • Group of participants sit together in a circle of chairs.
    Celebrating the First Annual St. Louis Freedom School involves serious work. Photo: Caylee Dodson
  • Three facilitators stand together in front of a large group of people sitting in a circle.
    Seattle-area anti-racist organizers put the juvenile justice system “on trial” at the People’s Tribunal, organized by AFSC in March 2015. Photo: Alex Garland
  • Woman writes on flip chart paper taped to a window.
    Art was used as an organizing tool in the Seattle People’s Tribunal; it’s also a key part of AFSC’s Peace by Piece program. Photo: Steph Araiza
  • Three people sit together and pose for a photo.
    Dustin Washington (right), program director of the Tyree Scott Freedom School in Seattle, helps foster the skills that lead to successes such as the juvenile detention center changes. Photo: Steph Araiza
  • Group of seated people listen to a woman speak.
    Despite their focus on youth, YUIR programs welcome all, and encourage intergenerational learning and coalition building. Photo: Steph Araiza