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National Book Foundation > Literature for Justice Committee > Michelle Alexander
Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights attorney, advocate, legal scholar, and author of The New York Times bestseller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. More about this author >
Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights attorney, advocate, legal scholar, and author of The New York Times bestseller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Jim Crow helped spark a national debate about the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States and inspired racial justice organizing and advocacy efforts nationwide. Numerous commentators have dubbed The New Jim Crow, ”the bible of a social movement,” and the book has become a staple of university curriculums, advocacy training, reading groups, and faith-based study circles. Alexander has been featured on national radio and television media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The Bill Moyers Journal, the Tavis Smiley Show, MSNBC, C-SPAN, and Democracy Now. She has also written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, the Los Angeles Times, and Huffington Post. Alexander has served as a professor at several universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an Associate Professor of Law and where she directed the Civil Rights Clinics. She also taught at Ohio State University where she held a joint appointment with the Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Alexander served as a Soros Justice Fellow in 2005 and was appointed a Senior Fellow for the Ford Foundation in 2015. Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she coordinated the Project’s media advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition-building, and litigation. The Project’s priority areas were educational equity and criminal justice reform, and it was during those years that she launched a major campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement, known as the “DWB Campaign” or “Driving While Black or Brown Campaign.” In addition to her nonprofit advocacy experience, Alexander has worked as a litigator at private law firms, including at Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, in Oakland, California, where she specialized in plaintiff-side class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination. Currently, Alexander is a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she is exploring the moral and spiritual dimensions of mass incarceration. She is also an op-ed columnist for The New York Times.