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Patrisse Cullors, New York Times Bestselling Author, Educator, Artist, and Abolitionist, to Headline ACUI 2022

As co-founder and former executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Patrisse Cullors is known for innovative and courageous social activism. Now, the New York Times bestselling author is empowering readers everywhere to take up the baton with “An Abolitionist’s Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World.”

On Monday, March 14, Cullors will set the tone for ACUI 2022 as keynote speaker. During the all-conference session, available both in-person and virtually, she will highlight best practices for modern-day abolitionists. (Cullors defines abolition as “the action of abolishing a system, practice, or institution.”)

Cullors’ vast experience as an educator, artist, and activist leaves her uniquely qualified to help attendees create social change through the practice of abolition.

A Legacy of Creative Activism

Patrisse Cullors (Headshot, copyright Ryan Pfluger)Cullors was born in 1984 in Los Angeles, California, where she lives today with her spouse, Janaya Khan. Cullors grew up seeing America’s police brutality and mass incarceration problems impact her loved ones. Since then, she’s been working to transform that world into one where all communities are treated with respect and dignity.

In addition to #BlackLivesMatter, Cullors has spearheaded several organizations, including Dignity and Power Now, Justice-LA, and Reform LA Jails. These groups pushed forward progressive ballot measures, stopped a $3.5 billion jail plan, and formed the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Civilian Oversight Commission.

In 2019, Cullors was named faculty director of the new Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program at the University of Arizona’s Prescott College. She designed the program with an innovative focus on art, social justice, and community organizing.

In early 2020, she took on the role of co-founder and creative director of the Crenshaw Dairy Mart, an artist collective and gallery designed in Inglewood, California, that unites cultural work, advocacy, and art. In May 2021, Crenshaw Dairy Mart installed a prototype for community gardening and gathering at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles.

In August 2021, Cullors produced the documentary series “Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground,” which highlights voices of the Black liberation movement. Later, in September 2021, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Patrisse’s appointment to serve as one of three Second District Arts Commissioners. By December, Cullors received the ACLU of Southern California’s Bill of Rights Award for her civil liberty contributions.

Putting Decades of Experience to Work in “An Abolitionist’s Handbook”

Cullors used her 20 years of activish to develop the principles featured in “An Abolitionist’s Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World,” which was published January 25, 2022. She recommends that readers interact deeply with the guide — writing on it, highlighting ideas, and keeping it handy for use on the go.

“A few years ago, I developed 12 principles or steps that I believe are an essential framework to grow and develop as an abolitionist,” Cullors writes in the book’s introduction. “I put these ideas into practice, taking great pains to try to maintain my commitment. It’s not easy, but it’s been worth it.”

Among other topics, the book teaches readers to walk away from cancel culture, organize local and national governments, practice active forgiveness, make justice joyful, and have courageous conversations. The book also details how to turn conflict into transformative action, expand creatively and imaginatively, make space for difficult feelings, and cultivate compassion.

Cullors segments the book into 12 digestible steps, titled as follows:

  1. Courageous Conversations
  2. Respond vs. React
  3. Nothing is Fixed
  4. Say Yes to Imagination
  5. Forgive Actively, not Passively
  6. Allow Yourself to Feel
  7. Commit to Not Harming or Abusing Others
  8. Practice Accountability
  9. Embrace Non-Reformist Reform
  10. Build Community
  11. Value Interpersonal Relationships
  12. Fight the U.S. State Rather Than Make It Stronger

In her keynote speech, ACUI 2022 attendees will discuss these best practices and have the opportunity to engage with the cultural visionary in a 30-minute question and answer session. Copies of Cullors’ book will be on sale on-site during the conference.


Christine Preusler, Managing Editor at The Wyman Company in Gainesville, Florida, writes The Lead for ACUI's biweekly newsletter, The Bulletin. Christine uses more than 15 years of experience in publication management and a master’s in mass communications from the University of Florida to highlight the latest industry news and create thought-provoking content. Contact her via email (cpreusler@thewymancompany.com) with story ideas and announcements you'd like to see in the newsletter.


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