The Free Minds, Free People Conference is a project of love built by volunteers from across the country who donate their time, resources, ideas and labor in order to co-create the type of space where we can learn, listen, heal, be seen and heard in ways that are vital for transformation from oppression to liberation. It is a project that started with a handful of powerful leaders, thinkers and organizers over ten years ago and has grown from that small group to a planning team of over 50 people and a conference of 75 participants to over 800 participants.
The board of the Education for Liberation Network would like to thank the planning team for their significant, steady work in making #FMFP2017 a success. Thank you to our local hosts in Baltimore. The Baltimore Algebra Project suffered a great loss in the passing of Victorious Swift, and yet they continued to organize for us, their guests, from across the country while loving each other with strength and consistency. They showed us the depths, the power and the beauty of the people in Baltimore and we are so grateful for the young leaders there. To all of the presenters and speakers-thank you for sharing yourselves and your essential work with us. The skills, tools and knowledge that you bring from your organizations and regions give the conference life and we couldn’t be more honored to learn from and with you.
To our director, Thomas Nikundiwe, and Carla Shalaby, for their tireless work and their love. They put every ounce of themselves into this conference and we could not have done it without them.
We hope that you all enjoyed your time at #FMFP2017 and we hope that you will stay connected, share what you learned and come back again with others!
Below are a few comments from folks who attended when we asked about the greatest strengths of the conference. We couldn’t agree more.
One of the greatest strengths is the opportunities that young people have to lead–as facilitators and participants in workshops. And I love that children are so welcome–and that there are offerings for the very little ones. The overall structure is so much better than any other conference I’ve attended, too. The plenaries were excellent–and then you have two workshop sessions to attend. I like that the workshop sessions were longer so you could actually learn about others’ work in a substantive way.
The balance between critical dialogue and social events is a recipe for building authentic and long-lasting relationships/community. Youth-led spaces keep the energies and vibes positive and grounded in our purpose.
Centering liberation, love, healing, hope as responses to our oppression and oppressive spaces.
I appreciate the mix of educators and students. I appreciate the breadth and variety of education justice issues addressed. I appreciate the centering of people from marginalized communities. I appreciated the effort to highlight the host community.
The beautiful gathering of like-minded people of color committed to this justice work.
The voices of youth activists. The variety of advocates. The calls to action and liberation. The talk by TL and Dustin as well as the talk by Dr. Ginwright were powerful and eye opening. More provocative and important work like that.
Facilitators created spaces where participants felt safe and valued (in many different ways). The location was accessible and affordable (at least for east coast travelers – and thinking about housing and transportation costs once in Baltimore) STUDENT LEADERSHIP!! This was so well done. I was excited to see so many young people participating as attendees, facilitators, leaders, etc. Child care provided. Events that helped participants connect with peoples/places/etc in Baltimore.
Youth facilitators were instrumental to my learning during the conference. One of my takeaways is how can I prepare and support my students to present at formal conferences. I believe this is an important step in honoring student voice in an authentic way.