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Press Release – September 16, 2019

Media Contact: Alee
(240) 393-3100


“PUSHOUT:  The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools Documentary” Premiered at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley

September 16, 2019 – Washington, DC– Hundreds of people from across the country showed up to watch the much anticipated documentary, “PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools” (PUSHOUT) during the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in Washington, DC recently.

Hosted by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who delivered a riveting speech before the viewing of the film; this standing room only premiere of PUSHOUT left quite an impact on the audience.

“Black girls are impacted by the policies, practices, conditions and prevailing consciousness that render them vulnerable to criminalization,” said Congresswoman Pressley.“PUSHOUT explores how educators, parents, and policymakers can demonstrate that we love our girls and hold them sacred to our collective mobility. As a Congresswoman, I am focused on disrupting discriminatory policies that criminalize Black girls and perpetuate the school-to-confinement pipeline.”

This feature-length documentary based upon Dr. Morris’s books, PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (The New Press, 2018) and Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues (The New Press, 2019) exposes a new and alarming trend: African American girls are the fastest-growing population in the juvenile justice system and the only group of girls disproportionately experiencing harsh discipline at every educational level. The film also explores critical interventions that interrupt criminalization in schools.

PUSHOUT exposes the educational and judicial disparities African-American girls face in the United States. The film included heart-wrenching stories from girls (from ages 7 to 19), across the country (Miami, FL; Portland, OR; Oakland, CA; Sacramento, CA; Columbus, OH) as they narrated the challenges they have encountered in their learning environments and beyond. PUSHOUT also features insight from experts across the country who have worked in social justice, gender equality and educational equity.

“This film is intended to be a tool for educators, community members and girls who want to improve educational, and life, outcomes for Black girls,” said Dr. Monique W. Morris. “That hundreds of people were eager to learn about this unheard story and participate in the development of solutions signals that we are moving toward a more equitable justice agenda.”

After the viewing of the film, there was an in-depth panel discussion followed by audience Q&A moderated by author Dr. Monique W. Morris, the executive producer and co-writer of the film PUSHOUT.

The panelists included:

  • Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, U.S. Representative, Massachusetts 7th Congressional District
  • Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association (NEA)
  • Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director, Advancement Project National Office
  • Tanisha “Wakumi” Douglas, Co-Founder & Executive Director, S.O.U.L. Sisters Leadership Collective
  • Lindsa McIntyre, High School Superintendent, Boston Public Schools
  • Naomi Wadler, Student and Youth Advisor to the Georgetown University Center on Poverty and Inequality
  • Sade Ratliff, Student at Stonehill College


“We demand that our young Black girls are treated as national treasures,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. At the end of the premiere, the audience was given “End School Pushout for Black Girls and Other Girls of Color” Education Policy Briefing which is available at  The booklet includes solutions at the federal, state and local level to improve Black girls’s educational development.

While the over-incarceration and criminalization that Black boys face in this country have received national attention, how girls of color, specifically African American girls are affected is absent from the conversation.  PUSHOUT addresses that crisis.

PUSHOUT is a film by Jacoba Atlas and Monique W. Morris and produced by Women in the Room Productions, owned by executive producer Denise Pines and director Jacoba Atlas. Funding is provided by NoVo Foundation, Meadow Fund, Ford Foundation, Ms. Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Stuart Foundation and Films for Purpose.

This premiere is the beginning of a nationwide tour of the film. The next official screenings are in Pittsburgh, PA, Miami, FL, Oakland, CA, and Washington, DC and New York City. More than 10 official screenings are planned for this Fall, in addition to more than 100 hosted by community leaders across the country.

For additional information, visit

About Women in the Room Productions

A film, television and digital production company that bring stories life storylines driven by women and persons of color.

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