Prison abolition literacies as Pro-Black pedagogy in early childhood education

Nathaniel Bryan, Rachel McMillian, Keith LaMar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prison abolition movement has brought attention to the American carceral crisis, or better yet, the mass incarceration and disproportionate criminalization of Black people in America. It has also led to and fomented recent calls to defund prison systems, the police, and to remove police from schools. While discussions of prison abolition have been addressed in the carceral studies literature, they are seldom addressed in the education literature and particularly in early childhood education. Given the ways in which young Black children are and have been negatively impacted by issues of mass incarceration (e.g. absence of family members, school-prison nexus), the lack of attention to the American carceral crisis and teaching about prison abolition is beyond concerning and contributes to the stanchless anti-Black violence Black children face in early childhood classrooms. Drawing on Pro-Blackness, the imprisoned Black radical tradition, and abolitionist teaching, we introduce what we term prison abolition literacies– literacies practices that bring awareness to the injustices of the carceral state and encourage young children to become prison abolitionists––so that teachers can infuse prison abolition into the early childhood education curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-407
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Literacy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Black children
  • early childhood education
  • prison studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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