Hello! My name is Alexandra Bailey (she/her/hers) and I am honored to be joining the ACLU of South Carolina’s team as a National Organizing Specialist focusing on the Charleston County Sheriff Race.
I was raised in a city of the haves and have-nots, more commonly known as the District of Columbia, and have been a part of its story; family members with drug addictions, sky-high living costs, insufficient wages, racially motivated treatment, policing, education, and the list goes on. I found my calling to organize through my personal experience with homelessness. My family, like many others, lost nearly everything in the 2008 financial crisis. I was forced to resign a hard-won seat at the University of London and return home to help my family. I was 20 years old, and the bright future I had fought for was suddenly in doubt. Unable to regain financial footing after years of struggle, and in the face of losing the one-bedroom apartment my family shared, a friend took me in as a live-in house/pet sitter in 2013. This turn of events was wholly life changing; it not only offered a solution to a terrifying problem but pivoted the focus of my life. I was now going to spend all my time fighting the social and governmental engines that attack personal dignity, civil liberties, and that create inequity and inaccessibility in our society. It was during this time that I was given the space and safety to further my education through Harvard Distance Learning. I have since gone on to study organizing with Marshall Ganz at the Harvard Kennedy School and guest lecture on organizing theory and practice at Ryerson University.
I have come far in my work, but my career began simply. I ran and cooked meals for the Homeless Ministry of First United Methodist Church. During that time, I became painfully aware that the work around poverty and criminal justice reform is often disjointed; it either focuses on immediate needs or trying to change the laws for tomorrow. I found/find this approach flawed. It isn’t holistic, and it doesn’t create a movement; it doesn’t create people power, and it doesn't come from the community. No one issue exists in a silo, and far too commonly these approaches tend to treat those impacted like political pawns, burdens, or paperwork to be processed. I honed my organizing and lobbying techniques, and I got to work! I have worked to gain access to voting for people experiencing homelessness, fought to raise the minimum wage in Cook County, Illinois and beyond, lobbied for the passage HB40 to renew the commitment to abortion access in Illinois, led efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in Illinois, fought racialized policing, elected and held new officials accountable, and more.
From the moment I joined the ACLU of SC, I knew I had found a group of people who believe, as I do, that policy and budgets are moral documents and that we must stand in radical solidarity with those impacted by harmful practices that are antithetical to civil liberties. This incredible organization has launched a campaign for safe and just communities, and their demands live up to that name. Fighting to end the racist war on drugs, the use of 287G agreements that rip apart immigrant families, blatant discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons, racialized policing practices that strip citizens of their First Amendment rights, fighting voter suppression, and reforming a legal system that offers justice based on resources and race.
There is a long road ahead, but the arc of history bends towards justice, and I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to add my weight to the ACLU of South Carolina.