Civil Rights Leader
Alanah Odoms is a civil rights leader, mother, and a professional and spiritual support to countless activists across Louisiana and beyond. As the first Black woman to lead the ACLU of Louisiana in its 66 year history, she has answered the call to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by challenging systemic racial and gender injustice – vestiges of slavery displayed most prominently in Louisiana’s epidemic of mass incarceration, immigrant detention/deportation, and racist policing across the state.
Through the ACLU of Louisiana’s “Justice Lab: Putting Racist Policing on Trial” initiative, Alanah and her team are leading law firms and law school legal clinics from across the country in representing plaintiffs who’ve experienced racially motivated police misconduct. The affiliate has filed 40 lawsuits challenging unconstitutional policing, passed legislation that protects law enforcement whistleblowers, and led the successful advocacy for the Department of Justice’s historic pattern or practice investigation of the Louisiana State Police. Louisiana in the sixth most racially gerrymandered state in the country, and Alanah and her team have led a statewide redistricting campaign - educating and mobilizing thousands of BIPOC Louisianans, from high schoolers to elders, to advocate for fair representation.
In March 2022, the affiliate filed a federal lawsuit against the Secretary of State to increase Black representation in the State House and Senate and Congress to ensure that the Voting Rights Act is made real for all people in Louisiana. And under Alanah’s leadership, the ACLU of Louisiana is providing critical Know Your Rights trainings, litigation support, and medical advocacy to thousands of people in the immigrant community who are detained in Louisiana jails and prisons. This work stands on ACLU of Louisiana’s foundational legal docket and advocacy efforts, to protect the First Amendment for all Louisiana residents, and challenge the prison industrial complex’s insatiable appetite for incarceration and detention. In 2018, Alanah led the organization’s successful coalition campaign to overturn Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury law, which dated back to 1898.