Kareem Crayton, who has served as a redistricting consultant to North Carolina Democrats, has been hired to serve as interim executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice beginning Jan. 1.
Anita Earls, current executive director and founder of the organizations, is stepping down at the end of the year to run for a seat on the state Supreme Court. Crayton will serve while the Board conducts a search for a full-time director, according to a news release.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Kareem Crayton be a part of this transition,” said Farad Ali, Chair of SCSJ’s Board of Directors. “In the 10 years since our founding, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice has become one of the premier civil rights organizations in our country. We are committed to moving forward, and Dr. Crayton is the right person to help us do just that.”
According to his website, the Montgomery, Alabama native is currently managing partner of Crimcard Consulting services, a firm that he founded to assist communities globally in their effort to seek political efficacy and equality. He has served on faculties including Harvard, the University of Southern California, the University of Alabama, the University of North Carolina and most recently, Vanderbilt University Law School.
“Dr. Crayton is an internationally respected scholar, expert, and consultant whose work centers on the intersection of law, politics, and race,” the SCSJ news release states. “He is the only academic in the United States in law and political science whose primary work explores the relationship between race and politics in representative institutions.”
Commenting on his future employment, Crayton said SCSJ is vital to defending the civil rights of marginalized communities in the South.
“Having worked with this organization over the years as a partner, I know the key role SCSJ plays in making our governing institutions more accountable and responsive,” he added. “I am therefore excited to lead the board, staff, and our community partners through this phase and to make sure we continue this important work well into the future.”
Earls praised the board’s decision to bring Crayton on.
“Kareem brings great insight to our organization,” she said. “His deep knowledge of issues related to race, politics, and the South will be an incredible asset to the coalition. I am comforted to know that Dr. Crayton will be taking charge of the organization I founded and love.”
Crayton worked with Democrats in the state’s most recent redistricting case, North Carolina v. Covington. Under questioning from Republicans, Democratic lawmakers said Crayton helped them draw the alternative maps to submit to the redistricting committees.
The court ultimately appointed a special master to redraw some legislative districts and that process is ongoing. Earls, who is a lead attorney for the plaintiffs in Covington, said earlier this year that she plans to step away from the case by the end of the year to focus on campaigning. She is challenging incumbent Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson.
Ali said the organization will miss Earls’ leadership but the work will move forward.
“We will continue to challenge unconstitutional racial and partisan gerrymandering that disenfranchises people and communities of color,” he said. “We will persist in our advocacy for reforming the criminal justice system, ending the school-to-prison pipeline, and creating fairer and safer schools for our youth.”