Atty. Julian D. Miller is the Senior Supervisor Attorney for Children’s Rights practice at Southern Poverty Law Center, where he focuses on impact litigation and policy advocacy for issues of educational equity and children’s rights. He is also the Co-Founding Director of the Reuben V. Anderson Institute for Social Justice and Assistant Professor of Political Science at historic Tougaloo College. He is an advocate, educator, and community activist who is committed to economic, social, and racial justice through grassroots-led efforts that would shift policy in a direction that would uplift all poor and working people.
He was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta region in Winstonville, MS. He matriculated at Harvard University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in government in 2007. While at Harvard, he co-authored policy white papers addressing redistricting reform and poverty, taught politics and civics to inner-city kids in Boston, and was a staff writer for the internationally-published Harvard Political Review. During his junior year, he served as a policy director for a congressional campaign. After college, he returned home to the MS Delta to do anti-poverty and community development work there before entering law school.
He graduated from the University of MS School of Law in December 2012 with honors. He is served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Presiding Judge T. Kenneth Griffis, Jr. of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. He was formerly a senior associate attorney at some of the most prestigious law firms in Mississippi, where he successfully litigated several multi-million-dollar cases at the trial and appellate levels in complex governmental litigation, administrative, commercial litigation, products liability, and labor and employment matters in state and federal court.
He has served as lead counsel and argued cases before the Mississippi Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, most recently arguing a first-of-its-kind special education matter on behalf of a disabled child in Mississippi.
He is the founding director and adjunct professor of the Education Law & Policy Clinic at Mississippi College School of Law. In that capacity, he works with law students, attorneys, and advocates to litigate on behalf of low-income public school students of color. He represent them in administrative matters, disciplinary hearings, youth court hearings, and special-education due-process matters across the state. Additionally, he engages in legislative policy advocacy and well as conduct impact litigation cases on issues of educational equity. He has drafted legislation to ban corporal punishment in Mississippi as well as to make school disciplinary and truancy statues compliant with federal special education law. He was also special counsel to the Office of Special Education of the Mississippi Department of Education.
For the past 15 years, however, his main focus has been developing anti-poverty projects in the areas of economic justice, public health equity, educational equity, and criminal justice equity that will have a transformational impact on public policy in Mississippi. He co-founded an organization called Delta Fresh Foods Initiatives that developed sustainable, community food systems throughout the Mississippi Delta as means of both food equity, public health equity and economic justice and interdependence. He parlayed that work into co-founding the Reuben V. Anderson Center for Justice, which was established to honor the life and legacy of Reuben V. Anderson, who was the first African-American graduate of the law school and the first African-American county court judge, circuit court judge, and Mississippi Supreme Court Justice.
The Center would be the first of its kind in Mississippi to address the intersection of race, poverty, educational inequity and economic injustice through grassroots community development projects, policy advocacy, and impact litigation. In partnership with Tougaloo College through the establishment of the Reuben V. Anderson Institute for Social Justice, he has raised several million dollars in grants to develop a worker-owned community food system on campus to address issues of economic and food justice; started the largest after-school mentoring, arts, and academic enrichment program serving local public-school students in the Jackson, MS area; implement a policy campaign in partnership with a statewide coalition of organizations to reform the TANF welfare grant program to support a State Earned Income Tax Credit for working families in Mississippi; lead a coalition of reentry services organizations to advocate for statewide criminal justice reform; and initiated a multi-million dollar NIH grant program to implement a food as medicine initiative to address preventative health and infant mortality in the Mississippi Delta. Additionally, he founded the Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Development Program at Tougaloo College. The program is working collectively with local organizers and social entrepreneurs, elected officials, and Tougaloo student fellows in three Delta counties (Bolivar, Coahoma, and Sunflower Counties) to develop sustainable, worker-owned food economies in those counties through leadership training, technical assistance, capacity mapping, strategic planning and implementation, and programmatic and policy evaluation. The project will create a replicable model for the development of sustainable food systems in Mississippi.
He chronicled some of his anti-poverty work in the Mississippi Delta in a chapter in a book entitled, Problem Solving for Better Health: A Global Perspective. His most recent work is chronicled as part of an interview for a book entitled The Moment: Changemakers on Why and How they Joined the Fight for Social Justice published this past November. He also has other publications to his credit related to public policy and economic justice, most recently in an article for Non-Profit Quarterly discussing a statewide strategy in Mississippi to develop worker-owned cooperative-based food systems. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Greater Jackson Arts Council, Secretary of the Board for the 100 Black Men of Jackson, and a board member of the Mississippi Food Policy Council along with several other organizations and non-profits.