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Voces: The Pushouts

Friday, Sept. 20 at 10 p.m.  — Meet a former gang member working with young people being “pushed out” of school.


Voces: The Pushouts

More About Voces: The Pushouts

“I was in prison before I was even born.” So begins the story of Victor Rios who, by age 15, was a high school dropout and gang member with three felony convictions. But when his best friend’s murder, a teacher’s quiet persistence and a mentor’s moral conviction converge, Rios is able to turn his life around.

In 2013, Rios – by then a tenured University of California professor, award-winning author and national thought leader on the school-to-prison pipeline – gets an unexpected phone call from his former high school mentor, Martin Flores, whom he hasn't spoken to in more than 15 years. Flores makes Rios an offer he can’t refuse: leading a summer program at YO! Watts, a youth center in South Central L.A. serving 16-24-year-olds who are out of school and out of work. “Thinking about Martin, how he was there when I needed that kind of support,” Rios recalls, “he was one of those people that saved my life!” Although the timing isn’t perfect and the pay non-existent, Rios heads down to L.A. with a team of protégé “super-mentors.”

“The Pushouts” features footage  shot over more than 25 years, including a year in the life of Rios the teen gang member which was filmed during the making of the 1994 Frontline documentary “School Colors,” and weaves Rios’s inspiring narrative with stories of the young people at YO! Watts. A then-and-now story of unusual intimacy and depth, the film trades narratives of tragedy and victimization for true stories of grit and resilience, highlighting the vast potential of young people to thrive when given access to meaningful opportunities and connections to adults who care.

Watch a Preview of Voces: The Pushouts