Ewart Guinier '33 has never had an easy time of it at Harvard. As an undergraduate he was one of only very few blacks in his class, and like many other Depression-era students he had an extraordinarily difficult time financing his education.
When he came back to Cambridge in the fall of 1969 and joined the Faculty as chairman of the Afro-American Studies Department, he might have expected much less of a struggle to survive here. But whatever his expectations, Guinier remains on Harvard's hot seat.
There is one important reason why Guinier stands out at Harvard: At an institution where traditionalists abhor mixing scholarly pursuits with politics, Guinier endures as a blatantly political figure. His department was created and his appointment made in response to the ferment of student revolt. Five years later, when administrators strive to "depoliticize" things, Guinier still talks about the University's racism, and does it openly and frequently. He is almost out of place in the silent seventies, but he struggles and manages to survive.