Makiah Lyons photo

Makiah Lyons, J.D.

Equal Justice Works Fellow

Makiah Lyons, J.D., is an Equal Justice Works Fellow hosted by IDRA. As a fellow, Makiah is working with IDRA to advance education equity and justice through an intersectional lens.

After growing up in Tennessee and Kentucky and settling in Chicago at 16, Makiah joined the Chicago Freedom School (CFS) as a Freedom Fellow in the Fair and Just Schools cohort, creating workshops for a youth-led campaign teaching students across Chicago about human rights in schools and later serving as a youth coordinator. She also worked as an interim teacher in a predominantly Black school in Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic, witnessing first-hand the challenges faced by historically marginalized students and families exacerbated by digital inequity, food insecurity, illness and countless other issues. These experiences shaped Makiah’s desire to pursue education law.

Makiah is a proud “Double Bison,” having earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University in 2019 and her law degree from Howard University School of Law in 2023. While in law school, Makiah served as the president of the Education Law Society, where she chaired the organization’s inaugural education law symposium focusing on school discipline and the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also interned with IDRA, the Educational Opportunities Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. She coauthored the IDRA issue brief, Identity-based Bullying in Texas Schools – Policy Recommendations, with Paige Duggins-Clay, J.D.

Makiah belongs to a family of proud and passionate educators. Her family and her own time in the classroom inspires her in the fight for equitable education.

Makiah’s fellowship seeks to investigate, interrupt, and replace school policies and practices that harm girls of color in Georgia and other southern states by bringing the voices and needs of girls of color from the margins to the center. Her project uses legal participatory action research project to investigate, document and disrupt the negative impacts of overdiscipline, punitive discipline and exclusionary discipline on girls of color, co-led by impacted students. Through action research, community education, direct advocacy and policy advocacy Makiah will interrupt and eliminate school discipline policies and practices that disproportionately harm girls of color in Georgia specifically and other southern states more broadly.