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Basic Black; Conversations With Lani Guinier


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Basic Black
Conversations With Lani Guinier
Program Number


Series Description

THe series was formerly known as Say Brother. Series title change as of 1/8/1998. This series is black produced and is one of public television's longest-running series that is rooted in and reflects the culture, concerns, achievements and history of people of African descent. Also includes controversial issues, African American artists, and events of special interest to the African American community.

Series release date: 1/8/1998

Program Description

Harvard Law School, Lani Guiner Civil rights attorney Lani Guinier burst onto the nation’s political scene in 1993, when her friend Bill Clinton nominated her to run the Justice Department’s civil rights division—then withdrew his nomination in the face of widespread opposition.

In fall 1998, Guinier joined the Harvard Law School faculty, becoming the school’s first tenured African American woman. BASIC BLACK host Darren Duarte caught up with her recently for an intimate discussion of her background, her embattled nomination for assistant attorney general, and her thoughts on civil rights in America

The daughter of Harvard University’s first Afro-American Studies Department chair, Guinier credits much of her strength to her father, whom she describes as a fighter and a wonderful orator. He often told her the story of how he was admitted to Harvard in 1929 but was denied financial aid because Harvard had already given a full scholarship to a black student—the university had fulfilled its quota of one. The irony that Guinier’s nomination to assistant attorney general was opposed for her being a "quota queen" does not escape her. "I’ve never advocated quotas," she says.

Guinier speaks openly about the painful public humiliation of having her 1993 nomination opposed and then withdrawn. Since then, she has not spoke with either Bill or Hillary Clinton, both of whom she was once close to. "I don’t feel sorry for myself," she says. "I had a chance to realize that what is happening in Washington is so paralyzing that I’m so much better off not having anything to do with it."



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Race and Ethnicity
Social Issues
Chicago: “Basic Black; Conversations With Lani Guinier,” 01/07/1999, GBH Archives, accessed June 17, 2024,
MLA: “Basic Black; Conversations With Lani Guinier.” 01/07/1999. GBH Archives. Web. June 17, 2024. <>.
APA: Basic Black; Conversations With Lani Guinier. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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