iOS app Android app

Judith Browne Dianis
GET UPDATES FROM Judith Browne Dianis
Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director of Advancement Project, has an extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing, and employment. Judith has worked tirelessly to protect survivors of Hurricane Katrina, filing critical litigation on behalf of displaced survivors and working to stop the exploitation of immigrant reconstruction workers.

Dianis’ efforts to protect voters of color spans years of dedication. In 1996, she filed pioneering litigation against the State Maryland for failure to enforce the “Motor Voter” law and represented the NAACP and African-American Floridians disenfranchised in 2000. Judith helped stop Florida’s use of an erroneous felon purge list in 2004, and served as counsel against the RNC, stopping challenges against voters of color based upon an illegal voter caging program. In 2008, Dianis represented the Virginia NAACP in litigation to eliminate racial disparities in the allocation of voting machines. Currently, Advancement Project is on the frontlines in fighting against a rash of legislative initiatives such as restrictions on early voting, state photo ID requirements, limits on voter registration and other laws designed to suppress the voting rights of people of color, the elderly, youth and the disabled.

Under Dianis’ leadership, Advancement Project has been dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline since 1999. Dianis has authored groundbreaking reports including: Derailed: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track, and has partnered with grassroots organizations, leading to significant declines of unnecessary arrests and suspensions of students. Dianis is on the Board of the 21st Century Foundation, FairTest and is a Convener of the Forum for Education and Democracy.

Judith joined Advancement Project at its inception in 1999, after serving as the Managing Attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. Judith is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, served as a Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at Florida State University Law School and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. She was named one of the “Thirty Women to Watch” by Essence Magazine and has written and commented extensively in the media about race issues.

Entries by Judith Browne Dianis

From Emmett Till to Michael Brown, a Story as Old as America Itself

(11) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 11:43 AM

By Gov. Ted Strickland and Judith Browne Dianis
This piece originally appeared on August 30, 2014, at

Familiarity breeds contempt.

For two weeks now, as we've watched the events in Ferguson, Missouri unfold, there's been a vulgar familiarity about them. The grieving family, the protesters,...

Read Post

When Your Color Is a Threat

(0) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 7:57 AM

Some justice was delivered, incomplete though it may be.

Michael Dunn was convicted of attempted second-degree murder for shooting at a carload of teenagers. But the jury ended in a mistrial on the charge of first-degree murder for the killing of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. There will...

Read Post

Why Virginia's Justice System Needs an Overhaul

(2) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 3:08 PM

This piece is co-authored by Marc Schindler, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute. It originally ran on on December 26, 2013.

The right to vote is not only the most fundamental right of American citizenship -- it is a foundational right. Nearly every historical struggle in...

Read Post

Their Voices Call Out to Us

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 7:51 AM

One year after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, our nation continues to grieve the events of Dec. 14, 2012. On the painful anniversary, our collective prayers were with the victim' families and the entire Newtown community.

While we wish we could turn back the clocks to erase the devastation of...

Read Post

The Voting Rights Case African Americans Must Watch

(26) Comments | Posted November 19, 2013 | 9:53 AM

From courtrooms to the streets, civil rights advocates and grassroots organizations nationwide are doubling down to protect voters. Over the past few years, we witnessed an aggressive assault on voting rights, with a wave of policies making it harder to vote either passed or proposed in a majority of states....

Read Post

Immigration Reform: An Issue We Can All Support

(111) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 10:49 AM

Earlier this month, thousands gathered on the National Mall to show Congress they had not gone away and would not be deterred in their quest for immigration reform with a path to citizenship. They were young, old, union, non-union, students, and faith leaders of varying races and ethnicities. Many were...

Read Post

Extreme Responses to Bullying Harm Us All

(10) Comments | Posted October 3, 2013 | 4:38 PM

On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Dignity in Schools Campaign kicked off its 4th annual Week of Action Against School Pushout involving over 60 organizations in 42 cities and 24 states. As the Gay-Straight Alliance Network has recently noted, to address student push out, we should closely examine our response to...

Read Post

Have the Darkest Moments Passed?

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2013 | 4:33 PM

Denise McNair, Cynthia Diane Wesley, Addie Mae Collins and Carole Robertson: four little girls killed in Birmingham at the height of the civil rights movement. In addition to the slain girls, whom Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called martyrs, nearly two dozen people were injured by the bomb blast which...

Read Post

On Equality Day, a Call for the Equal Right to Vote

(4) Comments | Posted August 26, 2013 | 10:45 AM

Rosanell Eaton, age 92, was one of the first African-Americans to vote in North Carolina -- even as the state tried its best to stop her. When she reached the age of eligibility back in the 1940s, as a prerequisite for registering to vote (reserved only for African-Americans), Eaton was...

Read Post

Just This Once: What We Need After Trayvon

(9) Comments | Posted July 24, 2013 | 5:02 PM

As of Tuesday, young people in Florida have been staging a Dream-In at the Florida State Capitol Building for a week. The Dream Defenders and Power U Center have lived and slept in the Capitol Building to demand justice for Trayvon and hundreds of thousands of others. I'm joining them...

Read Post

Zimmerman Verdict Is a Clarion Call for the Nation to Grapple With Racial Injustice

(1191) Comments | Posted July 13, 2013 | 11:56 PM

It is distressing that George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was gunned down last year by a man who saw him as a threat, not because he posed a threat, but because of the color of his skin....

Read Post

The Brave New World of High-Stakes Testing

(1) Comments | Posted July 13, 2013 | 4:51 PM

In Aldous Huxley's classic novel Brave New World, he paints the bone-chilling picture of a dark future of oppression. Citizens are divided into castes at birth, their jobs and economic positions predetermined. The future of the individual is taken out of his or her control and thrust squarely into the...

Read Post

It's Time for the Freedom to Vote

(1) Comments | Posted July 1, 2013 | 4:26 PM

Last week, the United States Supreme Court attacked a signature achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. The decision in Shelby v. Holder, to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act, will make it harder to vote for voters of color, language minorities and other Americans.

Since 1965, Section 5...

Read Post

The Civil Rights Success of Attorney General Holder

(6) Comments | Posted June 7, 2013 | 5:02 PM

The path of a trailblazer always holds resistance. To pioneer meaningful change, one must be prepared to defend themself against the inevitable opposing force. One man who has come to know this all too well lately is U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

A longtime champion for civil...

Read Post

Reflecting On the Past, Striving for the Future

(0) Comments | Posted January 20, 2013 | 10:39 AM

As we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our nation both reflects on the past and ponders the future. When we think about the past, we remember: the jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama; the brutal beating of John Lewis on that dreadful Bloody Sunday; the...

Read Post

A Letter to Fannie Lou Hamer on Emancipation Day

(8) Comments | Posted January 1, 2013 | 7:30 AM

This letter is part of our "Letters to Our Ancestors" project. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, we've asked members of our community to share their own letters to our forefathers. With these letters, we hope to look back on the progress our community has made...

Read Post

Top 10 Voter Suppression Moments of 2012

(9) Comments | Posted December 26, 2012 | 12:23 PM

The 2012 election cycle saw the greatest rollback on voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era. Largely driven by a spate of new laws and policies, including new restrictions on the type of ID that voters can use and flawed voter purges, conservative legislatures stopped at nothing to make...

Read Post

It's Time for Common Sense School Discipline

(41) Comments | Posted December 13, 2012 | 9:33 AM

This piece originally ran on The Grio on December 12, 2012.

The school-to-prison pipeline -- or, the system of extreme disciplinary practices that push young people out of school and into the criminal justice system -- is often discussed from the angle of isolated incidents.

In April, for...

Read Post

'Stand Your Ground' Should Be Repealed

(96) Comments | Posted December 4, 2012 | 5:40 PM

My heart aches for the parents of Jordan Russell Davis, the 17-year-old African-American high school student brutally killed in Jacksonville, Fla. They'll never get to see their son graduate from high school, pursue his dreams or grow into a man. Now, they must also contend with the shameful...

Read Post

Will the Real Voter Fraud Please Stand Up?

(4) Comments | Posted December 3, 2012 | 11:18 AM

Over the past two years, a rash of laws were proposed and passed in many states making it harder for Americans to register and to vote. The rationale for infringing on this right, so we were told, was rampant voter fraud. Building on the Fox News narrative about the alleged...

Read Post