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I was in prison before I was even born.” So begins the story of Victor Rios - a high school dropout, gang member, and three-time felon by 15. But when a teacher’s quiet persistence, a mentor’s moral conviction, and his best friend’s murder converge, Rios’ path takes an unlikely turn. Two decades later Rios - by then a 36-year-old tenured UC professor, author and national thought leader on the school-to-prison pipeline - gets a call. “Hey Hotshot.” It’s Martín Flores, Rios’ high school mentor, who he hasn’t heard from in 15 years. “I know you’re busy, but I need you to come down to Watts this summer and work with my kids.” It's a make it or break it moment for these youth, Flores - who directs a program serving 16 to 24 olds who haven’t finished high school - warns. “We get them on the right path now, or we lose them to the system.” Woven with archival material stretching back 25 years to Rios’ own troubled adolescence and including the contemporary story of this fateful summer in Watts, THE PUSHOUTS examines crucial questions of race, class, power, and the American dream at a particularly urgent time.
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