Skip Navigation

A Revolutionary Scholars Approach: A Student Guide into Organizing Formerly Incarcerated Students in Higher Education with an Abolition Praxis

A Revolutionary Scholars Approach: A Student Guide into Organizing Formerly Incarcerated Students in Higher Education with an Abolition Praxis

Wednesday, December 4, 2019  |  3:00 - 4:30 PM Central Standard Time

Presenters: Lily Gonzalez & Maria Martinez


Closed captioning provided.

This session will demonstrate the grassroots work people are engaged in to develop a prison-to-college pipeline that does not only support formerly incarcerated people pursuing higher education to succeed in whichever way they define success, but also promotes their empowerment so that they become agents of social change. With an abolitionist praxis, students engage in the imaginative labor of envisioning a world without prisons and generates a conversation of the labor necessary to create such a world.

Revolutionary Scholars (RS) is a student initiated and student led program created to support future and current Cal State Northridge students that have been formerly incarcerated or affected by the criminal legal system (or by issues of mass incarceration). Through their collective efforts not only have they created a resource center on campus, but they were able to organize within their campus community and the statewide level. Grounded in an abolitionist framework, they have been able to organize local and statewide actions around educational diversity efforts while also being part of statewide network building for formerly incarcerated students in higher education.  In this session, we will bridge the topic of mass incarceration that is popularized in academia with student organizing in higher education. Applying an abolition pedagogy, this session will address current activism and research around formerly incarcerated students in California. This session will benefit all educators who provide services within institutions of higher education, specifically in navigating issues around mass incarceration and helping previously and/or formerly incarcerated students navigating systemic and institutional challenges.

Maria Martinez is currently majoring in Computer Science at California State University Northridge and was formerly incarcerated. She works as a student intern with Revolutionary Scholars. Maria was brought to this work because her family was very supportive of her to further her education when she was paroled. If it was not for her younger sister pushing her to get an education, she would not have known that she was able to learn skills for the future. And, because of this, she would like to encourage formerly incarcerated members pursue a STEM career. 

presenter Maria Martinez

Lily Gonzalez was born and raised in the South-Central community of Florence-Firestone. Her research interests include critical archival studies and community archive work, specifically centered around the experiences and movements of formerly incarcerated people navigating higher education. 

Lily is grounded in this work because of her first-hand experiences with the carceral state. Her experiential knowledge revolves around the devastating impacts of criminalization and the carceral system. In 2015, Lily returned to California State University Northridge to complete her Bachelors’ degree. During her return, Lily co-established Revolutionary Scholars. This student organization aims to ensure that people do not return to a carceral space or are limited due to their previous involvement with the criminal legal system. Second, Revolutionary Scholars is dedicated to creating a prison to school pipeline that can develop alternatives and crowd out prison to the point of being obsolete.

Lily continues to be active in her community where she enjoys street tacos, and lives with her 7-year-old son Logan and 18-year-old daughter Alyssa Celeste.

presenter Lily Gonzalez