Eric Foner, in chapter 15, speaks about education as a freedom that blacks gained during the Reconstruction period. He speaks about how blacks used their Churches as a center for their own schooling. The black community wanted an education in order to increase their opportunities in society and were finally able to do so. The black population created educational opportunities and institutions for themselves rather than being given an education by the white community. However, equal rights were still a long way off as, in many cases, the white community did not welcome blacks into their educational system.
The freedom was partially realised prior to 1877, because any reconstruction involving human rights, including education, takes time to evolve. Of course it was a huge socio-political shift from before the Reconstruction period because the blacks were empowered. Blacks had the freedom to create their own education but they did not have the freedom to participate in any educational institution that they wanted to. Racial segregation in schools did not end until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The freedom was realised in the long run because educational institutions practice racial equality. Blacks can go to any school that they choose to, and fully take control of their educational path. The current freedom is a result of a great deal of struggle from equal rights activists.