Reflections on a Season of Transition

Forgive my silence for the past few months – life’s transitions often fall into and flow through one another. After an excellent year at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, I joined Advancement Project as a staff attorney last month. Orientation gave way to a staff retreat, reunions, introductions and engaging work. I love my job, but time slips away swiftly from week to week. And, of course, there’s the physically taxing process of registering the daily horrors that emerge from the Trump Administration.

Most recently, I worked with my colleagues to write an amicus brief for Husted v. APRI, a case before the Supreme Court during the October 2017 Term. The matter concerns the National Voter Registration Act and whether a state can essentially remove a voter from its rolls for not voting. The brief supports the A. Philip Randolph Institute; it argues that Ohio’s history of voter suppression, particularly vis-a-vis Black and Brown voters, causes the inactivity that the state uses to kick voters off of the rolls. I’m immensely proud to stand along side other voting rights advocates, and I count it as an incredible honor to have worked on such a brief so early in my legal career.

With securing the right to vote in mind, I look forward to moderating a panel in Denver next week for the Fall Conference of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. The event will focus on the rise of suppressive tactics in election administration, and it will include the perspectives of a Colorado state representative, a law professor and two voting rights advocates in Denver. I hope the panel will provide an avenue for a rich strategic discussion in the midst of a perilous political climate.

On the organizing side of my work, I’m excited to attend the March for Black Women on September 30th. Far too often, the voices of women, trans folks, and non-binary & gender non-conforming people are met with unwarranted vitriol and skepticism. I intend to always stand in solidarity with ALL Black people, and I urge myself & other Black men to listen attentively and provide support wherever its needed. If we don’t, we risk feeding the toxic patriarchy that resulted in 45’s election. (for more context, see, e.g., one of Damon Young’s latest VSB posts) Most importantly, I pledge to trust Black women, now and always.

To conclude, though it’s an excellent time in my life professionally, I recognize the sheer exhaustion that so many folks are experiencing during this time in the United States. I certainly count myself as a member of that group. More thorough reflections are forthcoming on my perspective as Black man living during the authoritarian reign of the First White President. For now, I intend to keep settling into the new job, writing, organizing and tirelessly fighting for justice. All these actions are both necessary, cathartic and freeing.

About andrewrhairston

Andrew Reginald Hairston is a civil rights attorney and writer based in Austin, TX. He is presently the School-to-Prison Pipeline Project Director of Texas Appleseed. Mr. Hairston is also the secretary of the board of Learn Together, Live Together - a school integration non-profit based in Washington, DC. He earned his law degree from Louisiana State University in May 2016, where he was a Faculty Scholar. During his time at LSU, he served as the President of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) from 2014 to 2015, as well as the 1L Representative of the organization from 2013 to 2014. While he was the president of LSU BLSA, he served as a member of the Law Center's Diversity Task Force. Mr. Hairston refined his commitment to racial justice work as a law student. He worked as a law clerk for the LSU Parole and Reentry Clinic, and he subsequently served as a student attorney for the LSU Juvenile Defense Clinic. As a third-year student, he was appointed to the Trial Advocacy Board, and he won the Dean's Cup Senior Appellate Challenge during his final semester at the LSU Law Center. Mr. Hairston received his bachelor's degree, cum laude, from Howard University. At Howard, he was actively involved in the Alternative Spring Break program. He worked as a site coordinator to develop and execute the initiative's first trip to Baltimore in the spring of 2013. From 2017 to 2019, Mr. Hairston served as a staff attorney at Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization in Washington, D.C. He began his legal career as the George N. Lindsay Fellow and Associate Counsel at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law from 2016 to 2017. He is licensed to practice law in Louisiana.
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