The name of the East Side Freedom Library has two sources:
The name refers directly to the development of peoples’ libraries and the free movement of knowledge and educational resources during the most active period of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. The Freedom Riders of the early 1960s and Freedom Summer of 1964 inaugurated a period of intense learning, community self-narration and institution-building throughout the United States, toward the goals of access to democratic process, and racial and economic equality for all peoples. A-historically mischaracterized as a period of violence and lawlessness, the legacies of the Freedom Riders, Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s and 70s are crucial models for creative re-invention of community.
The name refers indirectly to Andrew Carnegie’s vision for neighborhood libraries as “republics of letters.” The ESFL co-directors believe that preserving this community touchstone building as a new kind of library will preserve Carnegie’s vision, assert intellectual labor and knowledge-production as active on the East Side, and complement existing educational and cultural institutions.