A leading voice for social justice, Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar who currently holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University.
Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute and the Moritz College of Law, Professor Alexander was an Associate Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the Civil Rights Clinics. Under her leadership, law students participated in major civil rights cases and learned how litigation can be used as a tool to achieve social change.
Professor Alexander peels back the curtain on systemic racism in the American prison system in the pivotal New York Times best-seller The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The book is considered one of the top books of 2010 and won the NAACP Image Award for “outstanding literary work of non-fiction.”
In it, she argues that systemic racial discrimination in the United States has resumed following the Civil Rights Movement’s gains; the resumption is embedded in the US War on Drugs and other governmental policies and is having devastating social consequences. She considers the scope and impact of this current law enforcement, legal and penal activity to be comparable with that of the Jim Crow laws of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Professor Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University. Following law school, she was a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun at the U. S. Supreme Court. She served for several years as director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, which spearheaded a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement. She has litigated numerous class action discrimination cases and worked on criminal justice reform issues. .
Michelle Alexander married Carter Mitchell Stewart in 2002. Currently, Stewart serves as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. In addition to his regular duties, he now serves on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a group of 16 U.S. Attorneys appointed by Attorney General Holder who regularly meet in Washington, DC to provide advice and counsel to the Attorney General on a variety of policy, personnel, and budget issues.