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October 18, 2004

Harvard’s Lani Guinier to Discuss “Race, Exclusion and Political Elections” Nov. 2 As Part of Smith's Annual Otelia Cromwell Day Series

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—As the nation heads to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 2, renowned authority on contemporary politics Lani Guinier will lecture about “Race, Exclusion and Political Elections” at 1 p.m. in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall, Smith College.

The lecture by Guinier, the first black woman tenured professor in Harvard Law School’s history, is the keynote address of the College’s annual Otelia Cromwell Day, an event named for the first known African-American to graduate from Smith.

Guinier first came to public attention in 1993 when President Clinton nominated her to be the first black woman to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. She had been a civil rights attorney for more than ten years and had served in the Civil Rights Division during the Carter Administration. Immediately after her name was put forward in 1993, conservatives attacked Guinier’s views on democracy and voting, and Clinton withdrew her nomination without a confirmation hearing. That experience led Guinier to use her subsequent public platform to speak out on issues of race, gender and democratic decision-making and to call for public discourse on these issues.

A graduate of Radcliffe College and Yale University Law School, Guinier has written extensively in law review articles, books and op-ed pieces about new ways of approaching old problems, including issues of affirmative action, gender equity and race-conscious political districting. She also authored a memoir, "Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice," in which she used the nomination as a window on the civil rights movement past, present and future.

Before joining the Harvard Law School faculty, Guinier was a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania for ten years. At Harvard, Guinier teaches courses on professional responsibility for public lawyers, law and the political process, and critical perspectives on race, gender, class and social change.

This year, in additiion to Guinier's lecture, Smith College will honor Cromwell’s memory with a semester-long series of events examining civic engagement and involvement in the processes of democracy, with a particular focus on the concept of inclusion. The title of the series is “Politics, Participation, Power: The Challenges and Possibilities of Democracy and Diversity.”

Otelia Cromwell Day was established in honor of the Class of 1900 graduate to provide the College community with an opportunity for further education and reflection about issues of diversity and racism. During her lifetime, Cromwell became a professor and chair of the English language and literature department at Miner Teachers College in Washington, D.C., wrote three books and many articles. She received an honorary degree from Smith in 1950.

This year’s series began on Sept. 18 with a lecture on gender and politics by Carol Moseley-Braun, a former U.S. senator and a Democratic presidential candidate for the 2004 election. Then, on Oct. 13, Paul Frymer, author of “Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America,” delivered a lecture on race and the 2004 election.

Additional upcoming events in the Otelia Cromwell Day series:

Wednesday, Oct. 20
Pearl Cleage, celebrated playwright, novelist, essayist and author of the bestseller “What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day,” will discuss the writer’s role in wartime in a talk titled “Things I Thought I’d Never Do,” at 7:30 p.m. in Neilson Library Browsing Room.

Saturday, Oct. 30
Renowned African-American vocalist Kevin Maynor, an operatic bass, will headline a concert with the premiere of works by composers Jack Beeson of Columbia University and Pulitzer Prize-winner George Walker, a former Smith faculty member, at 8 p.m. in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall.

Saturday, Nov. 6
The Smith Theatre Department will present a reading of “Archangels of Funk,” a new musical work by Andrea Hairston, professor of theatre, that was a finalist for the 2003 Heideman Award, at 8 p.m. in Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre in the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Green St.

Also, the Howard University Concert Choir will perform at 8 p.m. in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, consult

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174


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