Dillon Nettles is an Alabama native and 2015 graduate of Auburn University where he received a B.A. in Political Science. Prior to joining the ACLU of Alabama as Policy Analyst, he worked for over three years on education policy, community engagement strategy, and program management in the Montgomery community. Dillon has been recognized as a Clinton Global Initiative commitment maker, New Profit Millennial Impact Fellow, and SFER Digital Leaders Fellow.
Every day I approach my work with the question, “how can I find solutions to our communities’ greatest challenges?”. Over three years ago, I moved to Montgomery to work in the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, yet I look around today and I see a city and state government that doesn’t uphold the values laid by our forebears that marched in the streets just over 50 years ago. I see a broken education system, leadership that doesn’t represent the people, and an incredibly disenfranchised citizenry. I also see people who are not ready to give up.
As an Alabama native, I realize that truth represents much of our history and it’s what fueled me to pursue this work from the time I was a teenager. I owe so much to my mom, a single-parent, who raised me with strong convictions about service, integrity, and leadership. When I was just a child, we would watch the nightly news - no matter if I wanted to play video games or if it was past my bedtime - because she believed “you need to know what’s going on in the world.” So, I learned at a young age that our world can be grim but we have an opportunity each day to shape it into a place that we want it to be.
Being raised as a Black child in a single-parent household often meant that my options felt limited because we grappled daily with the realities of poverty, lack of access to the resources my peers had within reach, and the obstacles placed in front of those in our country deemed “less worthy.” However, it was the community around us when I was a child, from family members to educators, and friends, who held open doors and created pathways for my success.
Now, as an organizer (first) and policy analyst, my pursuit is to fight to knock down every wall and open doors for others so that they may enjoy the promises which this country makes to every citizen -- freedom, justice, and equality. With the ACLU of Alabama, I will continue to be on the frontlines, carrying out the legacy of the civil rights leaders who walked the streets of this city before me. They did not give up; we can’t either. But it will take all off us working together to protect our civil rights and civil liberties so that every Alabamian is granted the freedoms they deserve.