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I Didn't Come Here to Lie
My Life and Education

An intimate, inspiring memoir by educator and labor union leader Karen Lewis, a formidable fighter, a staunch defender of teachers and students, and a beloved Chicagoan.

In 2012, Karen Lewis led the Chicago Teachers Union to a historic strike, challenging the city’s powerful mayor and paving the way for an unprecedented wave of teacher strikes in the decade that followed. 

But Lewis’s life took her in rich and surprising directions long before she landed in the CTU President’s office. I Didn’t Come Here to Lie, written in collaboration with historian and education expert Elizabeth Todd-Breland, tells Lewis’s story in full for the first time, capturing her lively wit, her charisma, and her commitment to building the schools and communities teachers, students, and families deserve. 

From her childhood on Chicago’s South Side to her teen years organizing Black Power walkouts, from her education at Mount Holyoke and Dartmouth to her years in Oklahoma and Barbados and her stints in medical school and film school, readers follow Lewis through a life full of exploration. Wherever she was, she maintained a strong commitment to building fairness. She found her calling in the classroom, teaching science for more than twenty years before becoming a union leader in Chicago. 

Up until her untimely death from brain cancer in 2021, Karen Lewis was spirited, unshakeable, and fierce. She remains a model for current organizers and teachers doing the day-to-day work of building a better world. I Didn’t Come Here to Lie is a testament to one of the true revolutionaries of her generation.