Anita Earls is a civil rights attorney with 30 years’ experience litigating voting rights and other civil rights cases in partnership with community-based organizations. She was the founder and Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a non-profit legal advocacy organization in Durham, North Carolina. She left that position in January 2018 to run for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Anita previously has served on the North Carolina State Board of Elections and the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission.
In 1998, Anita was appointed by President Clinton to serve as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, with responsibility for the voting, education, disability rights, and federal coordination and compliance sections. From 2000 to 2003, she directed the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. For the first ten years of her career, Anita was in private practice, litigating voting rights, police misconduct, school desegregation, and employment discrimination cases with what was then the Ferguson, Stein, Watt, Wallas, Adkins & Gresham law firm.
Anita has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina law schools, and in the African and African-American Studies Department at Duke University. Currently she is teaching attorneys in the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Training Institute. In 2011 Anita received the national NAACP’s Civil Rights Champion Award. In 2017 she received a “Defenders of Justice” award from the North Carolina Justice Center and was recognized as a “We Are Emily” honoree by Emily’s List.