Amir Whitaker is an educator, author, civil rights lawyer, and musician. He is the founder and director of Project KnuckleHead, a nonprofit organization empowering youth through music, art, and educational programs since 2013. Often referred to as “Dr. KnuckleHead,” Amir was introduced to the criminal justice system as a child when he visited both his mother and father in prison. At age 15, Amir himself was arrested and entered the juvenile justice system. Problems at school eventually led to him being expelled. Despite these hardships, Amir went on to complete five college degrees.
As a lawyer referred to as a “civil rights and education stalwart” by the Daytona Times, Amir has negotiated settlements and policy changes that have improved the lives of thousands of youth across the country. Amir is currently a policy attorney with the ACLU of Southern California and researcher with the UCLA Civil Rights Project. At the Southern Poverty Law Center, Amir worked on a class action lawsuit on behalf of incarcerated youth receiving inadequate education, mental health, and rehabilitation services. Within the Juvenile Division of the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office, Amir represented incarcerated youth and developed training materials. He has taught varying grade levels and in different educational settings for over a decade, and has held teaching certifications in Florida, California, and New Jersey. He has delivered keynote speeches to thousands, and written for leading publications across the country, including Washington Post and TIME Magazine. Amir's recently released autobiography has been featured on ABC News and in The New Yorker.
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