Amir Whitaker


Senior Policy Counsel



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Amir is senior policy counsel with the ACLU of Southern California. Prior to joining the ACLU, Amir represented students and incarcerated youth throughout Florida and Alabama for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Referred to as a "civil rights and education stalwart" by the Daytona Times, Amir has negotiated settlements and policy changes improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children. He has worked as a researcher with the UCLA Civil Rights Project, and has written for TIME Magazine and other publications. At the ACLU, Amir is responsible for legislation focused on education equity and funding.

Amir has taught across multiple educational settings for more than a decade, and has held teaching credentials in Florida, California, and New Jersey. He received his doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California, juris doctorate from the University of Miami, and his bachelors from Rutgers University. Often referred to as "Dr. KnuckleHead," Amir was arrested at age 15 and eventually expelled from school. In 2014, Amir started Project KnuckleHead to inspire vulnerable youth and help them reach their potential through education, music, and art programs. Amir is also the board chair of the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network, a collaborative of a dozen organizations providing art programming to youth throughout LA county. He has been a card-carrying member of the ACLU since 2012.