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(Washington, DC) – The civil rights community mourns the loss of Professor Lani Guinier, a voting rights champion, whose litigation, policy analysis, and scholarship on race, elections, and democracy inspired generations of advocates. The first woman of color to be granted tenure at Harvard Law School, during her career, Guinier served as special assistant in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund’s voting rights project.  

The following is a statement from Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

“Lani Guinier was a brilliant legal mind whose visionary thinking made our country better. She was a juggernaut, a big thinker whose insightfulness, precision, love of Black people, and hope for the future inspired many to take up the fight to make our society more just. Her impact on the American civil rights movement is profound.  Whether on voting rights, diversity in schools, or race and gender, her litigation, scholarship, and teaching built the path that many of today’s civil rights leaders still march. She was a dear friend and teacher to many, including me as a first-year law student and helped chart my path many years into my career as a civil rights lawyer. She showed us how the law worked and why we must be students of our craft, always thinking outside the box.

“Lani also showed us how to be human.  She was a good person and a kind soul.  As serious as she was, she could enjoy a good laugh among friends and close associates.  She was also strong enough to show her vulnerability, sharing her own setbacks and failures as lessons learned that could propel future generations forward. We have all suffered a profound loss. 

“Her passing could not come at a more critical time in our country, as we face unprecedented attacks on voting rights and democracy and teeter on edge between a future of inclusion or tyranny. We owe it to her memory to continue the work and fight for the restoration of voting rights, and the full inclusion of everyone who calls America home in this experiment we call democracy. May she rest in power as we continue the fight.”   


About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law— The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.  For more information, please visit