Lani Guinier, legal scholar, civil rights leader, and educator passed away in January 2022.
Here is a remembrance from Rob Richie, President and CEO of FairVote.
Rob and Harry Kresky, General Counsel of Independent Voting, offer two Guinier book recommendations for our Politics for the People readers.
“Civil rights leader and scholar Lani Guinier passed away in January at the age of 71. Lani was a personal friend and one of our nation’s leading voices for enacting proportional representation to replace winner-take-all elections. She was the first Black woman appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School, and one of the most influential thinkers of the democracy movement. Long before voting rights became a hot-button issue, Guinier built the bold intellectual framework that has helped shape today’s leaders and laid the groundwork for today’s movements for social justice.
Her memoir, Lift Every Voice, tells the personal story of the price she paid — including losing a nomination to be assistant attorney general of civil rights during the Clinton Administration — and introduces her bold, systemic ideas for building a truly representative democracy that lives up to our American ideals.
The story of an empowered Black woman attacked relentlessly in the court of public opinion, of voting rights and democracy at risk, of how we can chart a path forward despite the obstacles in our way — Lift Every Voice is truly as timely as ever.”
Rob Richie, President and CEO FairVote
A recommendation from Harry Kresky
“In The Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy, published in 1994, Guinier called into question the focus on creating legislative districts that improved the chances of African-American candidates being elected. She cogently argued that increasing the number of Blacks elected to office did not result in legislation that advanced the interests of the Black community.
Her views antagonized the Black political establishment and likely cost her a position leading the civil rights division of the Clinton justice department. This book and her work overall warrant a careful read as we work to shape reforms that empower all our citizens.”
Harry Kresky, General Counsel of Independent Voting