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Alumnae Stories

Alumna Works on Behalf of the Impoverished at Southern Poverty Law Center

November 2018

Emily Rutledge EarlyAs an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Emily Rutledge Early, C‘2005, works on behalf of the impoverished in the Deep South. The Southern Poverty Law Center's mission is to fight hate and bigotry and to seek justice for the most vulnerable members of society through litigation, advocacy, and education.

Much of Rutledge Early's work is centered on reforming policies that keep people in a cycle of economic hardship. “My time at Spelman helped ignite my passion for social justice and further solidified my duty to serve my community,” she said. “It also gave me a perspective of viewing the world from the lens of marginalized populations and creating a space for individuals to thrive.”

Her recent casework has included challenging the revocation of drivers’ licenses for non-paid traffic tickets, tackling predatory lending, and working to ensure access to Medicaid.

“Without economic rights, individuals cannot survive,” she said. “Our economic justice work helps to give people a voice against the systems designed to see them fail in their everyday lives.”

Rutledge Early received her bachelor of arts degree in sociology at Spelman where she was a UNCF Mellon-Mays Fellow and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Honor Society, and the Peer Education Program.  She earned her doctor of law degree fro Howard University School of Law.