I Didn't Come Here to Lie: My Life and Education (Hardcover)

I Didn't Come Here to Lie: My Life and Education By Karen G. J. Lewis, Elizabeth Todd-Breland, Angela Y. Davis (Foreword by) Cover Image

I Didn't Come Here to Lie: My Life and Education (Hardcover)


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An intimate, inspiring memoir by educator and labor union leader Karen Lewis, a formidable fighter, a staunch defender of teachers and students, and a beloved Chicagoan.
In 2012, Karen Lewis led the Chicago Teachers Union to a historic strike, challenging the city's powerful mayor and paving the way for an unprecedented wave of teacher strikes in the decade that followed.
But Lewis's life took her in rich and surprising directions long before she landed in the CTU President's office. I Didn't Come Here to Lie, written in collaboration with historian and education expert Elizabeth Todd-Breland, tells Lewis's story in full for the first time, capturing her lively wit, her charisma, and her commitment to building the schools and communities teachers, students, and families deserve.
From her childhood on Chicago's South Side to her teen years organizing Black Power walkouts, from her education at Mount Holyoke and Dartmouth to her years in Oklahoma and Barbados and her stints in medical school and film school, readers follow Lewis through a life full of exploration. Wherever she was, she maintained a strong commitment to building fairness. She found her calling in the classroom, teaching science for more than twenty years before becoming a union leader in Chicago.
Up until her untimely death from brain cancer in 2021, Karen Lewis was spirited, unshakeable, and fierce. She remains a model for current organizers and teachers doing the day-to-day work of building a better world. I Didn't Come Here to Lie is a testament to one of the true revolutionaries of her generation.

Karen Lewis (1953-2021) was a teacher and labor union leader who served as the president of the Chicago Teachers Union from 2010-2014. Born and raised on Chicago's South Side, she was the only African American woman in her graduating class at Dartmouth College. She spent time in Oklahoma and Barbados before returning home and becoming a teacher. Lewis was a high school chemistry teacher for twenty-two years. ​​A labor leader, an organizer, a brilliant strategist, an advocate for children and public education, a symbol of the progressive left, a lover of opera, movies, and tennis, Lewis passed away in 2021. Elizabeth Todd-Breland is the author of the award-winning A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Chicago since the 1960s and an associate professor of history and affiliated faculty member in Black Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago. She is a scholar of 20th century U.S. urban and social history, African American history, the history of education, and education policy. In 2019, Todd-Breland was appointed as a member of the Chicago Board of Education. She lives in Chicago.
Product Details ISBN: 9798888902530
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Publication Date: February 4th, 2025
Pages: 272
Language: English