The journal's founders were Louis Burnham, Edward Strong, W.E.B. Du Bois and its first general editor Shirley Graham Du Bois. It was later edited by Esther Cooper Jackson. For a time, Alice Walker was a contributing editor.
Freedomways reported on the progressive political movements of the time and especially the American civil rights movement, uniting the diverse perspectives of the North and the South, but was also notable for its international scope in the era of anti-colonial victories and Pan-Africanism, an aspect that contributor, editor, and writing solicitor John Henrik Clarke emphasized. In addition to noted African-American intellectuals and artists whose work appeared in Freedomways (among them writers James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Paul Robeson, Nikki Giovanni, Lorraine Hansberry, and visual artists Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, and Elizabeth Catlett), the journal published the work of international literary authors (such as Pablo Neruda and Derek Walcott) and political leaders and intellectuals, (among them Kwame Nkrumah, Julius K. Nyerere, Agostinho Neto, Jomo Kenyatta, Claudia Jones and C. L. R. James).
- Turner, Melissa. "Freedomways (1961-1985) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". The Black Past. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
- "Alphabetical listings of reprints and antiquarian stock". Periodicals.com. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
- Esther Cooper Jackson and Constance Pohl, Freedomways Reader: Prophets in Their Own Country. Interventions—theory and contemporary politics (Boulder: Westview Press, 2000; ISBN 978-0813367699)
- Ian Maxwell Rocksborough-Smith, "(PDF)Bearing the Seeds of Struggle: Freedomways Magazine, Black Leftists, and Continuities in the Freedom Movement." (PDF) MA Thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2006