Lift Every Voice


In a racially divided society, majority rule is not a reliable instrument of democracy.

–Lani Guinier

Lani Guinier’s visionary work in law and civil rights theory led to her becoming the first black woman granted tenure at Harvard Law School. She was an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and headed their voting rights project in the 1980s. She taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and then at Harvard Law School. In 1993 Bill Clinton nominated her for assistant attorney general for civil rights, but her appointment by was killed by right-wing figures who misrepresented her work on empowering black people and other minorities through proportional representation, branding her the “quota queen” and the “vicar of victimization.” She was the author of numerous books and articles on civil rights and social reform, including The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in a Democracy, and Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice.

Join us for an in-person breakfast and half-day of reflection and dialog. This will be a unique space where academic experts, practitioners, and community leaders will discuss Professor Guinier’s ideas regarding equity, racial justice, and electoral systems change.


There is no cost to attend but please do consider pitching in to help cover expenses. If you would like to underwrite the event, please contact Rey Lopez-Calderón rey@equitabledemocracy,org or you can donate here.

Keynote Speakers

Danielle Allen is James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics. She is a professor of political philosophy, ethics, and public policy. She is also a seasoned nonprofit leader, democracy advocate, national voice on pandemic response, distinguished author, and mom.  Her many books include the widely acclaimed Our Declaration: a reading of the Declaration of Independence in defense of equality; Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.; Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus; and the forthcoming Justice by Means of Democracy. She writes a column on constitutional democracy for the Washington Post. She is also the Founder and President of Partners In Democracy, where she continues to advocate for democracy reform to create greater voice and access in our democracy, and drive progress towards a new social contract that serves and includes us all. She also serves on the boards of the Cambridge Health Alliance, New America, and the Democracy Fund. 


Spencer Overton specializes in voting rights and campaign finance. His academic articles on election law have appeared in several leading law journals, including the Texas Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Michigan Law Review. Professor Overton’s book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression was published and released by W.W. Norton. During Professor Overton’s time in the Obama campaign, transition, and Administration (2007–2010), he was a key leader on the Administration’s landmark efforts to curb special interests, enhance transparency, and increase citizen participation. He has also served as a board member of several organizations, including Common Cause, Demos, The Center for Responsive Politics, and the American Constitution Society. His commentaries have appeared in the Washington Post, Roll Call, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times, among others, and he has made numerous appearances on national and local radio and television outlets to discuss election law issues.




Additional speakers to be announced soon…


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