Everyone Can Be Great

Most cultural and spiritual traditions honor conversion. Most abiding wisdom is recognized to come from something greater than, and outside of the self.

Leadership is the capacity to serve something greater than oneself.

That’s why we’re looking for individuals who want to change. We are looking for warriors willing to suit-up personal change for social change. No, it’s not an easy sell. And there are many nay-sayers.

Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center

We do know, however, that we should never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.Most of us believe in the value of getting along with others. And, we recognize common values that help us get along with one another, values like honesty, loyalty, respect, care for elders, and the value of hard work and discipline.

These are values that help humanity evolve.

Social well-being is ours to build. Healthy vibrant organizations and collaborations are the mechanism. In fact, history affirms, not one of us can do this alone, working together is the only route forward.

Award Winning Results

When you meet a young person from the Freedom Center, you know it. They look you in the eyes, shake your hand, and you can rely on them to have something inspiring or deep, to say”. --Local Elected official

Here’s how our game-changing program changes lives….We’re friendship builders and friendship alterers. Our program impacts are vast including reduced television time and increased reading time.

Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center
  • 95% of the Oakland youth participants demonstrate increased grade point averages, decreased absenteeism and decreases in disciplinary referrals.
  • 75% of the students assume leadership roles in the fall proceeding program participation, with improved academic grade point averages (average 1.2 gpa) and 100% high school graduation rate (or equivalent).
  • 94% college entrance rate and 87% rate of conferred degrees.
  • With only one year of programming, 94% demonstrate improved writing skills, 93% increase homework completion, 90% improve respect for peers, and 100% increase concern for community issues and engagement in meaningful civic activities.

Youth Leadership Academy

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us”. Nelson Mandela

What it is

The Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center Leadership Academy offers a community based, out of school peer-coaching leadership experience, that strengthens inter-generational, interracial social relationships to increase civic engagement, success in school, and resiliency. Classes are held on Saturdays, winter break and on summer vacations.


Program Summary

  • Arduous civic leadership classes feature dynamic program alums who serve as peer facilitators.
  • Facilitators are highly skilled in the Freedom Center’s peer-coaching method.
  • Classes focus on addressing specific problems or inequities they feel need to be addressed in civic life, and they take on leadership roles with the support of their peers, in problem solving and advocacy.
  • Freedom Center staff work with community based organizations and school personnel to select and nominate youth with emergent leadership skill.
  • Most students who are nominated are immigrants, in foster care, face housing insecurity and speak limited English.
  • Freedom Center students and staff conduct introductory classes, and immediately carry out home visits with 100% of the families.
  • Classes include at Thanksgiving, Days of Gratitude on the history of Native Sovereignty and the role of Gratitude; Winter Break a full-week series of classes on The Life and Legacy of Dr King Martin Luther King Jr; and an intensive six-week traveling summer “Boot Camp” in civic leadership. Days-long and over-night activities include cultural leadership exchanges to urban, tribal, rural, and natural out-door settings.

If you are a young person or an adult and would like to participate in the Leadership Academy, or if you would like to bring classes to your school or community organization, call the Freedom Center office today! Office phone: 510-434-3988.

Suggested Readings

The curriculum and pedagogy of the Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center draws upon traditions of nonviolence, Civil Rights, Sovereignty, and Internationalism. The following is a suggested reading list for further reference.

Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center
  • Barber, B. R. (2004). Strong democracy: Participatory politics for a new age. Los Angeles:
    University of California Press.
  • Benlevi, J. (2011). Too much magic: Pulling the plug on the cult of tech. San Francisco, CA:
    Contrarian Books.
  • Brameld, T. (1965). Education as power (p. 146). New York, NY: Holy, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
  • Brameld, T. (1976). The teacher as world citizen. Palm Springs, CA: ETC Publications.
  • Dahl, R. (2001). How democratic is the American Constitution? New haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. The Philosophical Review (Vol. 25, p. 735).
  • Dewey, J. (1984). Individualism old and new. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
  • DuBois, W. E. B. (1994). The souls of Black folk. New York, NY: Dover Publications.
  • DuBois, W.E.B. (1935). Black Reconstruction in America 1960-1880. New York: The Free Press.
  • Edelman, M. W. (1992). The Measure of your success: a letter to my children and yours. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
  • Huxley, A. (1937). Ends and means. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers.
  • Kelley, E. (1947). Education for what is real. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers.
  • King, M. L. (1963). Letter from Birmingham jail. Retrieved March 24, 2012, from http://heinonlinebackup.com/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/davlr26&section=31
  • King, M. L. (1967a). The trumpet of conscience. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
  • King, M. L., Jr. (1968). Chaos or community: Where do we go from here? Westminster, London, UK: Penguin Books.
  • Laski, H. (1935). Democracy in crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North California Press.
  • O’Dell, J.H. (2010). Climbin’ Jacob's ladder: The Black freedom movement writings of Jack O'Dell. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Padover, S. K. (1973). Sources of democracy. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • Patrick, J. (2003). Essential elements of education for democracy: What are they and why should they be at the core of the curriculum in schools. October 16, 2003 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.
  • Washington, J. (1986). A testament of hope. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
  • West, C. (2014). Black prophetic fire. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
  • Wilson, R. (2002). Leadership poetry workshop: Creating peace and strengthening democracy. Kent, WA: Institute for Community Leadership.
  • Woodson, C. (2010). The MisEducation of the Negro. Seven Treasures Publications.