Journal Information

  • ISSN: 2995-1313
  • eISSN: 2995-1321


ANNUAL · 6 x 9 ·  ISSN 2995-1313 · E-ISSN 2995-1321

Editors: Robert M. Ceresa, Huston-Tillotson University and
Ronald E. Goodwin, Prairie View A&M University

Freedom Schools is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that elevates the distinctive voices of HBCUs in Texas and beyond as well as research that touches upon themes of democracy defined as the work of everyone and experiences of civic agency that build a shared world.  The journal explores the challenges of democracy rooted in civic capacity and community institutions, and models for dealing with them by drawing inspiration from America’s HBCUs. Freedom Schools seeks scholarship from across all disciplines and institutions.

Recent Issues

Volume 1, 2024

Welcome to Freedom Schools: A Journal of Democracy and Community
by Robert M. Ceresa


Organizing within an HBCU: Huston-Tillotson University and Central Texas Interfaith
by Doug Greco and Warinda Johnson

The Philosophy of Black Education and the Promise of Democratic Organizing
by Harry C. Boyte


What Purpose Education? Dr. Anna Julia Cooper’s and Booker T. Washington’s Differing Views on Education
by Julie E. Hudson

Democracy in the Valley: Impacts of Voter ID Laws in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley
by Ronald E. Goodwin

Media Frames in an Era of the Local
by Robert M. Ceresa

Call for Papers | Submissions

Dear Friends, Colleagues,

The editors of Freedom Schools: A Journal of Democracy and Community (FS) are accepting proposals for research and innovative programs for consideration for Volume 2 of Freedom Schools to be published in spring of 2025. FS publishes proceedings of the Texas Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Democracy Schools Conference Series as well as research, commentary, and more from the perspective of “democracy schools.” Democracy schools is the name for the broad framework for research and practice FS editors and contributors and Texas HBCU Democracy Schools conference planners use. The framework draws on cultural views of democracy and citizenship developed significantly in Black educational history where the practice flourished. The approach highlights the vital role of community traditions and institutions in bringing people from diverse backgrounds and orientations together to build a world to live in that people believe in.

Did you miss the submission deadline to present at the year three conference in April 2024?

You can still submit for consideration in the journal!

Click here to submit a proposal.

Conference Series Overview

The Texas HBCUs Conference Series, Democracy Schools is the historic gathering of students, faculty, and staff of Texas HBCUs and community partners that started in the spring of 2022 on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University (HT).  The conference series, now in year three, emerged from the efforts of students in the campuswide leadership development and civic engagement initiative known as Public Leadership in Faith and Social Justice Traditions (Public Leadership).

The conference series speaks to the moment of democratic peril America today faces.  It seeks to reclaim and renew visions of American democracy rooted in civic capacity, community traditions and institutions.  America as a bold responsive inclusive community is how we think of the tradition.

American democracy as a bold responsive inclusive community has deep roots in American history.  The idea is woven into America’s founding documents and has inspired movements for freedom of enormous proportion, passion, talent, and energy often in unexpected places.  Black communities and Black institutions, specifically, help retrieve the commitment.  Bold responsive inclusive community is intimately bound up with the experience of African Americans.  The Civil War, Reconstruction, Amendments 13, 14, 15, America’s HBCUs, Rosenwald schools and libraries, the American civil rights movement, all tell the story of bold responsive inclusive community and the advance of democracy.

The work of scholars and professionals across disciplines and fields comes to the fore in the cultural view of democracy and citizenship that grounds the conference series.  Scholars and professionals who learn to “let go” control and work with other citizens, rather than work “on” them or “for” them is the model of professional practice we call the “civic professional.”  Civic professionals provide a form of leadership we call “strong meaningful citizenship.”  Strong meaningful citizenship is a distinct leadership practice that is locally embedded, directed, and resourced, inclusive and ideas oriented.  Leaders bring people together in and through community traditions and institutions (like colleges and universities) across differences that typically divide constituencies to build a world to live in that people believe in.  People assemble great power working together this way.  They become civic agents capable of contributing to solutions to public problems in meaningful ways.  The practice of strong meaningful citizenship helps to build a civic culture in which citizens learn to become public, powerful people, and democracy comes to be understood as the work of everyone.

We call settings where civic professionals are formed “democracy schools.”  Democracy schools and civic professionals have been central to the Black freedom movement from the beginning.  HBCUs are powerful examples of democracy schools with deep roots in democratic movements and periods throughout American history.  We mean to model and to spread democracy schools through the conference series.  The conference series seeks to contribute to an American democratic renewal highlighting the role of Texas’ and America’s HBCUs.

Goals of Texas HBCU Conference Series, Democracy Schools

The goals of the conference series are to (1) highlight the unique model of higher education that Texas’ (and America’s) HBCUs represent.  Conference stakeholders call the model “democracy schools.”  Democracy schools contribute to America’s democratic renewal reclaiming practices of strong meaningful citizenship for people to learn about, engage, and enjoy.  Also, the conference series (2) advances a public conversation about higher education policy in Texas and funding for HBCUs that is commensurate with the role HBCUs play in building a prosperous and shared Texas future.  The conversation began in year one of the conference series.  Finally, the conference series (3) maximizes students’ voices by centering students in every aspect of the conference series planning, as the original idea for the conference emerged from the effort and the leadership of students.

Theme of the Year Three Conference

The theme of the year three conference is development of the democratic person through research and practice.  A major objective of the conference is to help participants develop strategies that enable them to contribute to the state of knowledge and practice in the field (development of the democratic person).

The democratic person is not an individual, but a culture marked by practices of strong meaningful citizenship.  The domain (development of democratic person) is a process field as much as substance with insights for just about everything a people do or might do.  Strong meaningful citizenship infuses the way the democratic person generally behaves.  How would a biologist, for example, who is a citizen professional do biology, and what would new knowledge in the field (a “democratic biology” let’s say) look like?  How would an entrepreneur who is a citizen professional do business?  Imagine similar impacts and outcomes in student affairs programing, urban planning, music, accounting, etc.

Democratic Personhood, HBCU Leadership and Legacy, Rosenwald Schools

Democratic personhood is closely linked to the concept of human flourishing in philosophy, in traditions of personalism as developed at Morehouse College in particular.  A traditional leader in philosophy among America’s HBCUs, Morehouse was a significant center for development of personalist philosophy and theology in the US, as Benjamin Mays, Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King, and many of the leaders of the Black freedom movement were educated there.  Personalism holds that the flourishing of the personality is the premise of a good society.  Personalist philosophy and theology at Morehouse stressed “the sacred or otherwise inviolable dignity of persons…[and] promoted an educational process that activated the potential of individuals within and across diverse communities,” as the historian Kipten E. Jensen put it.  Personalism was a major foundation for nonviolent philosophy and a strong cultural view of democracy and citizenship.

The thousands of Rosenwald schools that Black communities created across the American South (including Texas) during Jim Crow are a powerful example of democratic personhood infused with ideas of human flourishing from personalism.  The movement had direct links to America’s HBCUs and played key roles in developing the nonviolent practices later promoted by the civil rights movement.  The network of educators closely linked to Rosenwald schools, called Jeanes Teachers, were schooled in HBCUs.

The larger American society’s failure to recognize the immensely valuable educational and civic history of the Rosenwald schools, and the Jeanes Teachers, was a loss to American democracy after Brown v. Board of Education as mainstream school systems failed to hire the bulk of Black teachers who worked in Rosenwald Schools.


Manifold contributions from across disciplines and fields are needed to explore the roots of the democratic person in our time and to develop its practices.  The visions of the common good and human flourishing need public discussion and consideration if they are to grow and spread.  Practices emerge when values and beliefs people share lead to ways of doing things and visions of the future that people embrace.

The year three conference supports this effort.  The conference will explore resources for developing processes and outcomes in diverse disciplines and domains that reflect and promote the values and beliefs, and vision of the common good and of human flourishing in democratic personhood.  The conference will also help scholars and practitioners become better acquainted with the leadership of HBCUs in developing pedagogical personalism and democratic personhood and their current possibilities.

Freedom Schools: A Journal of Democracy and Community

For authors who submit their work to the conference, a chance to publish in the new peer review academic journal with University of Texas Press, Freedom Schools, is an opportunity we are excited to offer. Freedom Schools elevates the distinctive voices of the HBCU in Texas and more broadly as well as scholars from across disciplines and institutions who recognize that democracy as a politics/culture, a society, and a government requires people to think seriously about civic capacity building across the social life of a people and the role of community traditions and institutions, including colleges, universities, and schools.


Submissions from scholars whose work incorporates purposes and themes that speak to the formation of the democratic person, the citizen professional, and/or strong meaningful citizenship are welcome.  The cultural view of democracy and citizenship that grounds the conference series makes room for contributions from a variety of fields (literature, science, humanities and the arts, the media, and more).  We invite submissions for conference panels, presenters, and discussants.  We encourage submissions that include the active participation of students.  Click here to submit a proposal.

Questions about the conference may be emailed to HCBU Conference Planning, Dr. Robert M. Ceresa (rmceresa@htu.edu) and Dr. Ronald E. Goodwin (regoodwin@pvamu.edu).  We look forward to working with you.


Peer Review Process and Statement of Publication Ethics

All papers submitted to the journal will undergo a double-blind peer review process that includes an initial review by the journal editors and then peer review by experts (2-3) in the relevant field(s). The reviewers evaluate submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Scope of the article. Does it align with the scope and theme of the journal?
  • Academically sound. Is the article rooted in a sound academic foundation (proper documentation, clear methodologies, adequate literature review, and original thesis)?
  • Potential scholarly impact. Will the article contribute to current scholarly dialogue and contribute to the existing body of knowledge?
  • Writing style. Is the article well organized and written for an academic and non-academic audience?

The peer-review process should take three to four months (from the initial conversation with the journal editors to the delivery of the findings/recommendations). The following is a detailed breakdown of the process:

  • Initial editors’ review – 4-6 weeks.
  • Peer reviewer evaluation – 6-8 weeks.
  • Compilation of comments and findings – 2-4 weeks.

At the end of the peer review process, journal editors will return a report of findings/recommendations to authors of either 1) acceptance, 2) acceptance with revision, or 3) rejection. In addition, editors will provide anonymous comments/feedback and suggestions to improve the submission. If the editors accept the article (or revised article) for publication, they will determine the journal issue in which it will appear. Authors are encouraged to follow all pre-submission guidelines, make all suggested revisions, and any copyediting requirements to expedite the process.

Statement of Publication Ethics:

The editor(s) and the editorial board of Freedom Schools: A Journal of Democracy and Community are committed to the following:

  • We will do our best to ensure that our peer-review processes and editorial decisions are fair and unbiased and that manuscripts are judged solely on their merits by individuals with appropriate expertise in the subject area.
    • We have the right to reject a manuscript at any point in the process if, after an unbiased evaluation, it is the opinion of the editor(s) that it does not align with the journal’s mission or editorial policies or would be in conflict with the journal’s legal requirements.
  • We will treat submitted manuscripts as confidential documents and will not discuss them or share information with anyone outside the editorial staff, editorial board, potential reviewers, or the publisher.
  • We expect transparency from editors and reviewers regarding potential conflicts of interest and will assign manuscripts to individuals who are not likely to have such conflicts.
  • We expect authors to help us uphold our ethical standards by
    • submitting only original works;
    • respecting the intellectual property rights of others;
    • adhering to the journal’s policies regarding simultaneous submissions;
    • acknowledging sources;
    • appropriately crediting all authors, other research participants, and funding sources;
    • disclosing any potential conflicts of interest; and
    • notifying the editors and/or publisher of any significant errors discovered after submission or publication.
  • We will promptly investigate any credible allegation of unethical or illegal practices related to our published article. When warranted, we will issue corrections, retractions, and/or apologies, working with the author(s) as appropriate to find the best resolution.
  • Concerns may be reported directly to the editor(s) or publisher by email at rmceresa@htu.edu or regoodwin@htu.edu

Texas HBCU Conference Information

Texas HBCU Conference Series, Democracy Schools

The Texas HBCU Conference Planning Team is pleased to announce a call for proposals for submissions of scholarly research for the Texas Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Conference Series, Democracy Schools, Year Three, at Saint Philips College, San Antonio, TX, April 5-6 (Fri-Sat), 2024. The theme for the year-three conference is Development of the Democratic Person, Research/Practice Agenda.

See Call for Papers | Submissions tab for additional information.


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