Michelle Alexander is a civil rights lawyer, advocate, and law professor. She has worked at Stanford Law School as an associate professor of law and director of the Civil Rights Clinic and currently holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. Prior to becoming a law professor, Ms. Alexander served as the director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she first began challenging racial bias in the criminal justice system. In this role, she initiated and led the ‘Driving While Black or Brown Campaign’ to fight patters of racial profiling.
Ms. Alexander has also worked as a litigator at private law firms specializing in plaintiff-side class-action lawsuits involving racial and gender discrimination. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of her first book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The book was published in 2010 and won the 2011 NAACP Image Award for best nonfiction. The book has been featured in a number of major news media outlets and is recognized as a major contribution to debates about race and the criminal justice system in the U.S.
In the words of the HLS community member who nominated Ms. Alexander, “Her work in the field of prison abolition and her continued activism against the prison industrial complex inspires me. American understandings of criminal justice have changed because of her work.”