Named after the “freedom schools” of the civil rights movement, Freedom University was started in 2011 by a group of professors at the request of undocumented students. It operates on the principle that “you can stop me from going to a UGA classroom, but you can’t stop a UGA professor from teaching me,” said Melissa Padilla, a 22-year-old Freedom University student who also serves as a representative on the organization’s board.
Freedom University doesn’t receive official funding, but donations of books and money poured in from all over the country when the group was launched. Every week, volunteers drive students to Freedom University classes. Padilla says that sort of support, and the determination of the students, makes her confident that Freedom University will keep going strong as the legal battle over education for the undocumented in Georgia continues.