Lani Guinier - 10/4/04

Who We Are

Who We Are

Lani GuinierIn 1998, Lani Guinier became the first black woman to be appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, she was a tenured professor for ten years at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. During the 1980s she was head of the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and had served in the Civil Rights Division during the Carter Administration as special assistant to then Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days. Guinier came to public attention when she was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993 to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, only to have her name withdrawn without a confirmation hearing. Guinier turned that incident into a powerful personal and political memoir, Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice. Dean of Yale Law School Anthony Kronman calls Lift Every Voice a “moving personal testimony, a story of dignity and principle and hope, from which every reader can take heart.”

While a member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier investigated the experience of women in law school, leading to the publication of a book, Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School and Institutional Change. She and her co-authors found that women were not graduating with top honors, although women and men came to the school with virtually identical credentials. The author of many articles and op-ed pieces on democratic theory, political representation, educational equity, and issues of race and gender, Guinier has written The Tyranny of the Majority (Free Press 1994); Who’s Qualified? (Beacon Press 2001) written with Susan Sturm; and The Miner’s Canary(Harvard Press 2002), written with Gerald Torres.

 In a recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Guinier argues that colleges should practice “confirmative action,” meaning that all students should be evaluated and educated to confirm the sacred, democratic mission of higher learning.

A graduate of Radcliffe College of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Guinier has received numerous awards, including the 1995 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, the Champion of Democracy Award from the National Women's Political Caucus, the Rosa Parks Award from the American Association for Affirmative Action, the Harvey Levin Teaching Award, given to her by the 1994 graduating class at the University of Pennsylvania, and the 2002 Sacks-Freund Teaching Award from Harvard Law School. She is the recipient of eight honorary degrees, including from Smith College, Spelman College, Swarthmore College, and University of the District of Columbia.

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