101 Introduction to Abolition

Abolition 101 is an introductory course that explores the moral crisis of mass punishment and abolitionist responses. The lesson begins with the history of US slavery and the evolution of systems of punishment in the US carceral state. Students will learn about the underground Railroad, slave laws, fugitivity, lynching, convict leasing, segregation, the New Jim Crow, policing, and prisons. In addition, students will explore abolitionist responses and identify political and religious movements to end mass punishment.

Certifying Organization

Abolitionist Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that trains faith communities, educational institutions, and civic organizations to unite against the moral crisis of mass incarceration and the criminalization of impoverished Black motherhood. Our research-based expertise and community organizing experience in connection to a national coalition grounds the learning material in this certification program.

Learning Objectives

In this course, you will learn introductory terminologies and histories exploring the intersections of race, gender/sexuality, and class in the contexts of slavery, lynching, segregation, and prisons.By successfully completing this course, you will:

  • Learn key terminology to understand concepts related to abolition
  • Identify significant historical periods that contributed to the rise of prisons
  • Learn about historical leaders in multiracial and multifaith abolitionist movements
  • Understand laws the sanctioned servitude, reinforced policing, and continue to target and deny the freedoms of Black people.


Rev. Nikia Smith Robert, Ph.D.

Founder & Executive Director

Abolitionist Sanctuary

Adriana Rivera

STAAR Curriculum Intern, Abolitionist Sanctuary

Minister of Youth and Households, Edgewater Congregations Together (ELCA)

Jazzmin Duncan

Student Abolition Ambassador


Vaughn Brown

Policy Intern, Student

Pomona College

Bithiah Negusu

Student Abolition Ambassador

Abolitionist Sanctuary

Not Enrolled

Course Includes

  • 6 Lessons
3-hour course

Beginner, College, Graduate, Continuing Education, Professional Development


Civic Education for the Common Good.

We apply the U.S. Department of Education’s Consensus Statements about Constitutional Approaches for Teaching about Religion:

▸ Our approach to religion is academic, not devotional;
▸ We strive for student awareness of religions, but do not press for student acceptance of any religion;
▸ We sponsor the study about religion, not the practice of religion;
▸ We expose students to a diversity of religious views, but do not impose any particular view;
▸ We educate about all religions, we do not promote or denigrate any religion;
▸ We inform students about religious beliefs and practices, it does not seek to conform students to any particular belief or practice.

We apply the American Academy of Religion’s “Religious Literacy Guidelines”


Special Thanks

A special thanks to the founding members of Abolitionist Sanctuary’s Board of Directors and STAAR Intern, Adriana Rivera, M.DIV. The leadership of Rev. Dr. Nathan C. Walker and the onboarding and technical support provided by his team at 1791 Delegates. The continuation of this work depends on contributions from generous supporters like you. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Abolitionist Sanctuary, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN 86-2003530). With you support, we can create additional courses and certification programs to train the next generation of abolitionists.