On Saturday, August 15th, we lost our beloved leader and north star, Allison Ranelle Brown, to a hard fought battle with cancer. We are heartbroken beyond measure and mourning the loss of a fierce, dynamic, and phenomenal advocate for racial and education justice. 

Allison never wavered from the belief that schools can and must be liberatory and affirming spaces where Black and Brown children can thrive and reach their fullest potential. As her team, we remain ever more committed to bringing her vision to life. Cancer is not the “C” that defined Allison. Here is how we will remember her: 

For Allison, her life’s work is best described as deeply personal--beautifully indivisible from her life as a daughter, a mother, a sister and a friend. Her wisdom and reflection was a portal to understanding this nation’s deep-seated sins and an invitation to realize the promise of liberation. 
Forged in the fire of her mother’s fierce determination to ensure that the world and Allison’s schools saw, acknowledged and supported her genius, that fiery insistence set Allison on a lifepath that she walked with her ancestors, her children, and the legions of people who marched with and behind her. In her own words, “I still have in me that shy little girl from Indiana who would never let her mother get too far from her. Who grew up in the unspoken richness and traditions of African American community. Whose instincts were her ancestors, her great grands, ordering her steps. Who has seen success because her family told her to, and expected nothing less.” Allison was always clear that this grounding was no small part of her resolve to fight for, uplift, and center the wisdom and needs of those most deeply impacted by the myth of white supremacy - grassroots organizers - youth, parents, and educators - who are, as she said, “canaries in the coal mine. They are the Black-led, often women-led organizations that society is comfortable leaning on for leadership and loathe to support with resources, policy, even empathy.” 

Community and a deep commitment to the centrality and importance of creating a sense of belonging for Black and Brown children was an embedded priority in everything Allison did as a lawyer, a leader, a mother, and a philanthropist.


"Allison has given us so much in the short time she was with us. Grace, love, eloquence, vulnerability, fierceness, wisdom and a warrior spirit just to name a few of the things that showed up in every aspect of her life. Through the years as I read the thoughts she shared with us on her battle with cancer I was oftentimes left in awe. I am happy she is no longer in pain and at the same time saddened that her time amongst us has come to an end. My Love, prayers and thoughts are with her children, family, friends and movement family. I am committed to use the gifts she modeled and left for us in my work and life moving forward. Rest Well Beautiful Allison.” - Letha Muhammad, Director, Education Justice Alliance


Allison was brilliant, brave, gracious and gentle. Her fierce and unwavering advocacy for the safety of Black children in all spaces manifested so beautifully. As colleagues and partners, we were privileged to have her voice and vision lead us to this moment. It is now on us. We must invest and sustain the work Allison shepherded with so much love and dignity. This is how we honor her legacy.” - Toya Randall, Senior Director, Casey Family Programs
Allison’s children were her reason for doing the work and her own personal north star. She celebrated their victories with tears, with joy, and with gentleness. She called them into learning alongside her and to actively participating in the work of the Communities for Just Schools Fund. We are profoundly grateful to Zora and Masai for welcoming us into their lives and for sharing their mother with us.

Allison’s myriad accomplishments are phenomenal by every measure. And, in so many ways they are the window dressings of a life lived so purely and fully as an example of loving, elegant grace and as a roadmap for what it will take to reimagine our world, our education system, and our connections with each other.
When Allison talked about the groundbreaking work she championed in Meridian, MS as a U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division trial attorney, she didn’t linger on courthouse shenanigans or administrative logjams. She reflected on the stories of the beautiful humanity of the Black children and families whose stories shaped her fierce and unflagging lawyering. She mused about her own deep spiritual and genetic connections to Mississippi - and how she felt connected to her ancestors who were sharecroppers in Yazoo City, MS. She would not be deterred until she/they won - a groundbreaking consent decree that closed a chapter that began with the Brown vs. Board desegregation work of Thurgood Marshall and his colleagues by acknowledging a literal school-to-prison pipeline in Meridian, MS and requiring the complete overhaul of school discipline policies and practices. 

Allison is now home with the warriors for justice within whose ranks she is surely counted and who preceded her in their departures. We trust that John Lewis, Ella Baker, Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman, Zora Neale Hurston and so many others will be waiting to embrace their sister. We know that Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Emmett Till, Breonna Taylor and the countless other young Black folks whose lives were senselessly stolen from them and in whose honor Allison waged loving battle for justice have received their Auntie and are caring for her.
Please stay tuned for information about how to honor Allison’s legacy by supporting her beloved children and ensuring we are moving towards education justice unapologetically and collectively.