Habari Gani? What’s the news?

Umoja (oo-moe-jah)!

On the first day of Kwanzaa, December 26, we celebrate unity.

Umoja Unity dagi knot

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

The dagi knot, pictured above, is a Pan African symbol of unity found in several African cultures (Yoruba, Hausa, Bushongo, and more).

Today we light a black candle symbolizing Umoja, the first principle of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) that represent a guide for daily living to be practiced throughout the year.

Harambee! Let’s all pull together!

Joyous Kwanzaa!

Kwanzaa kinara and symbolsKwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. Celebrated from December 26 thru January 1, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.

Like Freedom Schools, St James’ Episcopal Church Austin, and Welcome Table, Inc., Kwanzaa is a story of self-determination. Kwanzaa started during a time when people in the US weren’t allowed to celebrate the traditions or languages or faith of the African diaspora, nor encouraged to learn about our rich and diverse heritage.

Today we uplift the Nguzo Saba, seven principles that represent a guide for daily living studied during Kwanzaa to be practiced throughout the year.

The Greeting

Habari gani? (Swahili for what’s the news) is the official greeting spoken during the 7 days of Kwanzaa. The response is the principle of the day.

Learn More

Click here to learn more about Kwanzaa.

And be sure to visit this blog daily from December 26 to Jan 1, to learn about the Kwanzaa principle of the day.

And please join CDF Freedom Schools Austin at the Carver Museum on Wednesday, December 29, 4 pm – 8:30 pm for the annual Ujamaa Marketplace and Kwanzaa Celebration.

And Sunday, December 26, 11:30 am – 12 pm, join St James’ Episcopal Church and the Union of Black Episcopalians – Myra McDaniel Chapter for the annual Kwanzaa Celebration. Participate in-person (masks required) or online (Zoom).


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Happy HolidaysAfter another year of uncertainty and loss, your holiday season may continue to look different than it did in times past, but in this challenging moment, we have more reason than ever to be grateful for every season—and every day—we get to spend with the people who mean most to us.

We are grateful for you.

Whatever your holiday celebrations look like this year, we hope you and your loved ones are safe, healthy, and warm, and we look forward to doing more good and vital work with you in 2022. Together we can make a difference in ourselves, our families, our community, our nation, and our world.

Freedom Schools Kwanzaa at the Carver Museum

Kwanzaa Kinara DisplayJoin CDF Freedom Schools® Austin as we celebrate family, community, and culture with the Carver Museum and Cultural Center for the annual community Kwanzaa Celebration & Ujamaa Marketplace held on

Wednesday, December 29, 4 pm to 8:30 PM
at the
George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center‎
1165 Angelina St.
Austin, TX 78702

Admission is free and open to the public. Bring the whole family to this intergenerational event!

George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center


Stop by the Freedom Schools booth outside from 4 pm to 6pm to make a free Kwanzaa craft. Shop and explore the Buy Black Vendors’ Outdoor Marketplace. Enter a drawing to win a copy of the book One Hen, a gift from CDF Freedom Schools Austin.

Trina RobertsonOne Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big DifferenceThen join us for the evening, from 7pm to 8:30 pm program inside Boyd Vance Theatre for the evening Kwanzaa program, featuring  performances and Kwanzaa candle lighting, along with Freedom Schools cheers and chants along with a read aloud, featuring some of our Freedom Schools scholars and our guest reader Trina Robertson (Welcome Table, Inc. board member) reading One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway.


(This Freedom Schools event is supported in part by the Union of Black Episcopalians – Myra McDaniel chapter.)

Join us for CDF Freedom Schools® Austin’s Jazz Harambee Picnic

with musical guest artist Andre Hayward

Saturday, November 13, 2021

1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

This event will be held outdoors in the grove on the grounds of
St James’ Episcopal Church, 1941 Webberville Rd, Austin TX.

Let us know that your family is attending the Jazz Harambee.

RSVP here: https://forms.gle/xQcygVGDqLV2Y6zU7

When you RSVP by November 4th, you can also enter to win Jazz at St James’ concert tickets.

See friends, old and new at this special jazz themed event with read aloud guest Melody Fullylove (reading Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, a picture book inspired by American jazz trombonist, arranger, and composer Melba Liston), along with some of our favorite Freedom Schools cheers and chants, recognitions, and mini-concert and demonstration by professional musician, trombonist Andre Hayward (who is also performing during Jazz at St James)

Free! Bring the whole family and bring a friend.

(In case of rain or cold weather location will be indoors in Founders’ Hall at St James’ which has plenty of room for Covid safe distancing. Masks required when indoors.)

Here’s the link to RSVP: https://forms.gle/xQcygVGDqLV2Y6zU7

We look forward to seeing you, your family and friends at the Jazz Harambee on Saturday, November 13, 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM

CDF Freedom Schools Austin Summer 2021 Scholar Recruitment

Summer 2021 Program Scholar Recruitment Information

Sign up today for our free in-person or virtual summer school!

  • Who: Scholars entering 1st – 6th grade in the fall of 2021
  • Where: Pecan Springs Elementary and Online
  • Dates: June 14th – July 23rd (closed July 5th everyone virtual July 6th – 9th)
  • Times: Monday to Friday
    • In-person (8:00 am – 3:00 pm)
    • Virtual (8:30 am – 12:00pm and 1:00pm – 3:00pm)
  • Cost: Free! Limited spaces are available. First come, first served.
  • How: Contact Mila Jackson (512.350.8139)
    [email protected] or [email protected]


  • You may choose In-person or Virtual Programming!
  • Scholars gain months in reading levels!
  • Scholars learn they can make a difference!
  • Increased interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)
  • Free Breakfast, Lunch and Snack
  • Virtual field trips
  • Kids have tons of fun, and fall in love with learning!
  • Parents and teachers see the difference in scholars’ skills, behaviors, cultural identity pride and levels of confidence!

Your child is welcome to apply if they:

  • are NOT in the Andy Roddick Eagles Summer Program
  • speak and read English (multi-lingual families welcome)
  • have just completed K-5th grade
  • receive 4s, 3s, and 2s for conduct on their report card
  • are able to attend some the opening and closing weeks (June 14-18 and July 19-23) and only miss a few days during the summer

CDF Freedom Schools® Austin is brought to you by Welcome Table, Inc. using the proven model developed by the Children’s Defense Fund.

You can also download a printable PDF of this 2021 scholar recruitment information flyer here