Mark Warren, Professor of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the McCormack Graduate School, recently published his fourth book, Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out!: Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement. The book introduces readers to the struggles and accomplishments of the educational justice movement through firsthand accounts and personal narratives written directly by the parents, students, educators, and allies fighting on the frontlines in the resistance against systemic inequalities that target and disadvantage children of color in low-income households.
Over the course of the semester, he will be speaking with community and education activists featured in the book and touring cities across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. His speaking schedule can be viewed here. McCormack Speaks sat down with Dr. Warren to learn more about his latest book and some of the goals that he hopes his book will help accomplish on these issues.
SA: Where did the idea for this book come from?
MW: I have been studying and working with community, parent, and youth organizing groups as well as with education activists for twenty years. Until recently, most of these efforts had been focused in local areas but over the past five years, I witnessed a growing national movement. I thought it was time to write a book about this new, emerging movement and wanted to have organizers and activists have a chance to speak for themselves – share their own personal stories, powerful analysis, and successful strategies for creating educational justice in schools and communities.
SA: What gap in the literature does this book address?
MW: This book approaches the failures of our educational system as a profound racial justice issue, rooted in the lack of power that low-income communities of color have in our society. It argues that we need a social justice movement led by those most affected – parents and students of color – as well as educators and allies in other movements to create power for communities and systemic change in public education. It also identifies effective strategies for how to build this movement and create equity-oriented change in schools and communities.
SA: What types of projects and dialogues do you hope this book will inspire?
MW: I hope this book will provoke a discussion about the depth of systemic racism in our public education system and what it will take to address it. I hope it helps people appreciate the important work [of] people who are often ignored in our society – like parents and students of color – but are leading change efforts across the country.
SA: How have your affiliations with the McCormack Graduate School and UMass Boston assisted with the publication of this book?
MW: I believe it is important for our public universities to be at the forefront of working with communities to create equity and justice in education and beyond. UMass Boston and MGS support this mission and the research and engagement work I do for educational justice.
SA: What are some other projects you hope to pursue in the coming years?
MW: The people who came together to create this book became excited about creating an idea and strategy space for movement building that we are calling the People’s Think Tank. We are touring the country engaging communities and educators around the need to create a stronger and more intersectional social justice movement with racial and educational justice at its center. We will be launching the People’s Think Tank next year as the culmination of this engagement process and take the next step to build strategic understanding and actionable knowledge for the movement and its supporters.
SA: Anything else that you’d like to share with the MGS community about this book?
MW: This book is very personal to me. I grew up in a blue-collar family and community and public schools gave me a chance to go to college and access the world. Too many young people, especially poor children and children of color, are denied that access and are consigned to lives of continued poverty or incarceration. This book shines a light on the way forward for our country to reject our racial history and create a better future for all our young people.