De'Andrea Byrd: 'I Am Changing Lawyering by Working Directly with the People.'

If/When/How’s Quick Question series highlights the work of our Reproductive Justice Fellows, introducing our network to the incredible advocates who are dedicating their lives to the movement to lawyer for reproductive justice. We’re so proud of the work they’re doing at placement organizations across the country to ensure that everyone has the ability to safely decide if, when, and how to create and sustain their families, and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their own terms. But we can’t support them without you: Please donate $10 to help us give aspiring and new lawyers the resources they need to thrive. And if you can’t give — share!

De’Andrea Byrd, ’19-20 Reproductive Justice Fellow at Women Engaged.

De’Andrea Byrd (Southern University Law Center ’19) has been heavily involved in Southern University’s Pro Bono Committee, where she has participated in over 300 hours of community service. She prides herself on being a connector of people, and is a mentor to high school and undergraduate students, visiting her alma mater and underserved high schools. Throughout her law school career, she participated in Southern University Law Center’s a two-week legal diversity summer camp, and traveled extensively both domestically and internationally. She received her Bachelor of Science in political science from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

We asked De’Andrea to tell us a little about herself in her own words as she prepares to begin her Reproductive Justice Fellowship year at Women Engaged in Atlanta, Georgia, this fall.

If/When/How: Who are you, and where are you from? 

De’Andrea Byrd: I’m De’Andrea Byrd, my pronouns are she/her, and I’m from Dayton, Ohio.

If/When/How: Where are you going? (You can treat this question literally or existentially.)

DB: Simply, I am going wherever God and the universe lead me.

If/When/How: What drew you to reproductive justice work?

DB: I was drawn to reproductive justice from negative experiences I and family members have encountered. The disproportionate maternal mortality rate among women of color was my final shove into the field of reproductive justice.

If/When/How: What does reproductive justice mean to you?

DB: Reproductive justice means securing the fundamental rights of women and infants no matter their economic status or geographical placing. It means providing proper prenatal care, and providing care for the LGBTQ community, and educating women on their bodies and aiding them in how to take care of their bodies. It means having women’s voices heard by physicians to prevent their unnecessary deaths. And lastly, reproductive justice means getting laws passed to protect women, their bodies, their infants, and their choices.

If/When/How: What do you want to change (or what are you changing) about what it means to be a lawyer?

DB: I am changing the way we are perceived in the community by erasing the elitist stigma and directly connecting with people to learn how to better serve justice. While I prefer to do my work outside of the courtroom, I am hopeful that lawyering in the halls of Congress and in the community will overflow into the courtroom. It is a common belief that lawyers can only effect change from within. I am changing that by working from the outside, directly with the people.

If/When/How: What are you most excited about going into the RJFP?

DB: I am most excited about learning from Women Engaged, and meeting new people and learning about different experiences. Connecting with people from all walks of life is something that has always come naturally to me.

If/When/How: When you are not lawyering, what do you get up to?

DB: Per the people who know me best, I am always lawyering. I read and watch movies from an analytical and critical point of view, because it is how I learn about people. To share my observations, I perform standup comedy.

If you’re as excited as we are to see De’Andrea succeed, donate $10 to help If/When/How support new lawyers like her.