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A look back at the 1619 Freedom School's first year and its future

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

The 1619 Freedom School in Waterloo is a free after-school program designed to help students improve their literacy and develop a love for reading through a curriculum centered on Black American history.

The 1619 Freedom School was founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of The 1619 Project, and Waterloo native and Jones' lifelong friend, and teacher Sheritta Stokes.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe chats with Stokes about their first year and the Freedom Summer program offered this July, as well as a Waterloo parent whose children have been enriched by the programs.

Later in the episode, Benji Jones, an Iowa native and environmental reporter for American news and opinion website Vox shares a story about his first-ever river otter sighting in Iowa this summer.


  • Sheritta Stokes, co-director and curriculum coordinator, 1619 Freedom School
  • Ariauna Baskerville, Waterloo resident
  • Benji Jones, environmental reporter, Vox
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.