February 18, 2023

February 2023: Andrew Hairston

Andrew Hairston, Education Justice Project Director, Texas Appleseed; Board Member, ACS Austin Chapter

Andrew Hairston (he/him)
Education Justice Project Director, Texas Appleseed; Board Member, ACS Austin Chapter

As I reflected on 2020, I became a lawyer to honor my deep childhood interest in John Grisham's books and the generations of lawyers who preceded me in my family. Like my granduncle, Warren Cox, who helped to desegregate the University of Mississippi School of Law, I understood the existence of my present struggle for racial justice as a fixture within a long, continuous line of resistance. My parents, a Baptist preacher and a public school administrator reinforced this principle as I grew up, and they greatly inspire my present work.

As an undergraduate student at Howard University, I fought against the death penalty in Maryland. As a law student at LSU, I served in clinics that sought to vindicate the rights of incarcerated folks and kids. As a lawyer - across my tenure at organizations like the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Advancement Project, and Texas Appleseed - I strive always to uplift the voices of those most impacted by draconian law & policies as I employ the skills imparted by the profession. These days, such advocacy most often takes the form of testimony before the Texas Legislature and school boards across the state.

Although I might not live to see it, I fight each day for a world where all people, especially Black people, can fully enjoy the abundance of this planet. In this world, people will attend fully-funded public schools, live in expansive affordable housing, access healthcare at any time without cost, build genuine relationships with one another, and observe art wherever they go. As a deacon at Ebenezer III Baptist Church in Austin, I attempt to actualize this future by cultivating the intergenerational community that this body of faith has given me. It is an honor to contribute my efforts toward this vision.

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