Mark R. Warren - "Willful Defiance" - Bill Ayers, Maria Degillo, and Angelo Mcfarland

Monday, December 6, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Mark Warren

Mark R. Warren discusses his book, Willful Defiance: The Movement to Dismantle the School-To-Prison Pipeline. He will be joined in conversation by Bill Ayers, Maria Degillo, and Angelo Mcfarland.

Presented in partnership with University of Massachusetts Boston

Virtual Event


About the book: In Willful Defiance, Mark R. Warren documents how Black and Brown parents, students, and low-income communities of color organized to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in their local schools and built an intersectional movement that spread across the country. Examining organizing processes in Mississippi, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other localities, he shows how relatively small groups of community members built the power to win policy changes to reduce suspensions and expulsions by combining deep local organizing with resources from the national movement. As a result, over the course of twenty years, the movement to combat the school-to-prison pipeline resulted in falling suspension rates across the country and began to make gains in reducing police presence in schools, especially in places where there have been sustained organizing and advocacy efforts. In documenting the struggle organizers waged to build national alliances led by community groups and people most impacted by injustice rather than Washington-based professional advocates, Warren offers a new model for movements that operate simultaneously at local, state and national levels, while primarily oriented to support and spread local organizing.

About the author: Mark R. Warren is professor of public policy and public affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is a sociologist and community engaged scholar who studies and works with community, parent and youth organizing groups seeking to promote equity and justice in education, community development and American democratic life. Warren is the author of six books, most recently Willful Defiance: The Movement to Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Oxford University Press, 2021). Warren has co-founded several networks promoting activist scholarship, community organizing and education justice, including the People’s Think Tank on Educational Justice, the Urban Research Based Action Network, and the Special Interest Group on Community and Youth Organizing in the American Educational Research Association. He has won a number of awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. He is married to Roberta Udoh, a Boston Public Schools teacher, and together they have raised two beautiful daughters.

About the speakers:  Bill Ayers is the author of Demand the Impossible: A Radical Manifesto, Fugitive Days: A Memoir, and, most recently, About Becoming a Teacher.

Maria Degillo has been Youth Director of Communities United and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) Coordinator since 2016, having started with the organization over ten years ago as a volunteer youth leader after she was pushed out of school. A survivor of violence stemming from the home, Maria was one of the founding youth leaders of VOYCE, organizing to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Maria draws on her lived experiences in her work to create safe spaces in which young people of color can design solutions that address the problems they face, share their lived experiences, build collective power, and build a culture of support and love with each other. In 2018, Maria was recognized by the Bright Promises Foundation for her work to develop a next generation of young people to advance change. 

Angelo Mcfarland, 20 year old youth leader was born and raised in the Austin community located on the west of Chicago. Angelo first joined Communities United in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic working on issues of community safety and efforts to create police free schools that focuses on holistic approaches to safety. Through his work and effort, Angelo has also helped to organize Caleb’s Platform, a youth-led initiative with the aim to continue VOYCE leader, Caleb Reed, who we lost to gun violence with the goal of creating safer communities for Black and Brown youth. He continues to be a part of the organization “because of the safe space and family we have built”. Angelo likes to make music in his free time and listen to music because it helps him to express himself.



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