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My Friend Lani Guinier

Friday, September 26, 2014

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Dear Tulane Community:

Next week an old colleague and friend from my days at Penn Law is coming to Tulane. Lani Guinier will speak on "Wealth, Merit, Class, Race and Higher Education" at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 1, in the Lavin-Bernick Center. Lani, now the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard University, was a prolific, dedicated and engaging star faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1988-98 when I also was a young junior professor there. (Yes, there was a time when I was young.)

It was during these years that she became a household name after her nomination by President Bill Clinton to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice was withdrawn without a confirmation hearing. True to form, Lani did not become embittered by the experience but explored it in her book Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice, a personal and political memoir of the incident. Her scholarship on protecting minority rights in the legislative process has resonated over the years with a broad variety of groups on both the right and the left as the interplay of majority and minority influence has played out across the national stage.

Lift Every Voice is one of many books, articles and opinion pieces Lani has written during her remarkable career, a journey that has included serving in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice during the Carter Administration, heading the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s and becoming the first African-American woman appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School.

Lani's appearance at Tulane is the culmination of a more than year-long series of activities marking the 50th anniversary of desegregation at Tulane -- an event that changed our university and country forever and for the better. Lani's life and career are a testament to that effort. I hope you have a chance to hear her speak.

 

Signature of Mike Fitts