Western Illinois University’s (WIU) Initiative for Social Justice Pedagogies (ISJP) will host a virtual spring book study in March for Bettina L. Love’s book, “We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom.”

This book study is open to anyone in the WIU community who is interested in educational reform and civic engagement: current and future educators, staff, administration and community members.

This book study will meet a total of four times: March 10, 17, 24, 31, from noon-1 p.m.

Love is an award-winning author and a professor at the University of Georgia, where she has been involved in establishing Abolitionist Teaching (restoring humanity for children in schools).

According to the book description, “Love persuasively argues that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements.”

She argues that “the U.S. educational system is maintained by and profits from the suffering of children of color,” the book description explains. “Instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs, and character education, which Love calls the educational survival complex. To dismantle the educational survival complex and to achieve educational freedom—not merely reform—teachers, parents, and community leaders must approach education with the imagination, determination, boldness, and urgency of an abolitionist.”

Following in the tradition of activists like Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer, “We Want to Do More Than Survive” introduces an alternative to traditional modes of educational reform and expands our ideas of civic engagement and intersectional justice.

Associate Professor of English Rebekah Buchanan said she finds the book study relevant to the lives of WIU students and thinks it would be beneficial for the campus community to read and discuss.

“I hope that participants will have a better understanding of the way in which the educational system has systematically impacted students of color and how we need to move beyond just reform in order to create a more equitable and just system,” said Buchanan.

WIU’s ISJP has some copies of the book available for registered participants. The book is available through I-Share and other book services.

The book study will be held via Zoom. To register, visit https://bit.ly/3pDxPGY

For more information about the event, contact Buchanan at rj-buchanan@wiu.edu.


Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.