Lani Guinier, Oral History


Lani Guinier, Oral History


Lani Guinier, author of Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice


Interview with Professor Lani Guinier, the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School. Guinier's work includes professional responsibilities of public lawyers, the relationship between democracy and the law, and the role of race and gender in the political process. Guinier is probably best known as President Bill Clinton's nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in April 1993. President Clinton withdrew his nomination in June 1993.


Lani Guinier
Bob Friedman
Gary Richardson


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


April 17, 1998


Emily Bibb
Ashley Wilson








Bob Friedman
Gary Richardson


Lani Guinier


Transcript of audio snippet:

Bob Friedman: You were talking about something that was very near and dear to my heart, the idea that if we get caught up in identity politics or we get caught up in constituency based politics alone, we stop minding the store and we’re easily manipulatible by the political forces. You know, pitting one group against the other and what have you. And you raised the issue of democracy. How did you come to feel so strongly about the bigger picture?

Lani Guinier: Well, I think a number of reasons. One is that I had worked in 1982 on the extension of the Voting Rights Act. I was one of the lawyers working with a big coalition of people. People from the religious community, the Women’s community, the Labor Movement, all of whom were fighting to amend and extend and strengthen the 92, the 82 Voting Rights Act. And it was that process of feeling the power of a coalition working to support the rights of people of color that convinced me that democracy was an important vehicle for fundamental fairness. That we couldn’t do it alone. We’re a minority in most of the country and we’re numerically weak. And so you need allies. And the way to get allies, is to show them how what you are fighting for is right and just, but it’s also good for America.

Gary Richardson: You know, we often heard that you were “Quota Queen” and all this stuff. What was it in your writing or in your previous statements that garnered such a label?

LG: First of all, I have never supported quotas even though I support democracy and fundamental fairness. I have never supported quotas. I supported something called cumulative voting, which is in fact, in use right now in Chilton County, Alabama and a couple of other places in Alabama.  It’s used by corporations in over 30 states to elect members of their board of directors. It’s a way of protecting minority shareholders...


Full interview: 44 minutes
Audio snippet: 2 minutes


Lani Guinier.jpg
Lani Guinier 2 min.mp3
Lani Guinier.pdf


Lani Guinier, Bob Friedman, and Gary Richardson, “Lani Guinier, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed June 22, 2024,

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