Transforming Education for Social Justice Keynote Speaker

Transforming Education for Social Justice Keynote Speaker

Cyphers for Justice Youth and Dr. Jamila Lyiscott

Pedagogy on Fire! Centering Youth Voices for Social Justice

On the other side of this national struggle, how will students remember the state of our classrooms? This talk, led by Cyphers for Justice youth researchers and Dr. Jamila Lyiscott calls for all educators to set their pedagogies on fire! To lean into the heat of this political moment, center student voice, and allow the fire to forge another, more substantive level of engagement that is not afraid to incorporate the sociopolitical elephants in the classroom for teaching and learning. It is a call to uproot the Eurocentric pedagogical approaches that not only under-prepare students for the realities of our increasingly multiethnic, multilingual, globalized society, but are also rooted in colonial and racist ideologies that stifle the voices, identities, and realities of students.


Cyphers for Justice (CFJ) apprentices inner-city youth as critical researchers through the use of hip-hop, spoken word, and digital literacy. Founded within the traditions of Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and Hip-Hop culture, CFJ youth work alongside Columbia University graduate students, professors, and community-based teaching artists, to conduct research and present their findings on relevant social issues. CFJ is an afterschool program within Columbia University's Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME).

Dr. Jamila Lyiscott is currently a visiting assistant professor of Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she also serves as an affiliated faculty member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Afro American Studies department. Coupled with these appointments, Jamila was recently named a Senior Research Fellow of Teachers College, Columbia University’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME).

Across these spaces, her research, teaching, and service focus on the intersections of race, language, and social justice in education. The recently awarded Cultivating New Voices among scholars of color fellow also serves a spoken word artist, community organizer, consultant and motivational speaker locally and internationally. Her scholarship and activism work together to prepare educators to sustain diversity in the classroom, empower youth, and explore, assert, and defend the value of Black life. As a testament to her commitment to educational justice for students of color, Jamila is the founder and co-director of the Cyphers For Justice (CFJ) youth, research, and advocacy program, apprenticing inner-city youth, incarcerated youth, and pre-service educators as critical social researchers through hip-hop, spoken word, and digital literacy. Her poetry and scholarly work have been published in Review of Research in Education, English Education, English Journal, and Teachers and Writers Collaborative Magazine. Through her community, scholastic, and artistic efforts, Jamila hopes to play a key role in forging better connections between the world of academia and communities of color outside.