Abigail Thernstrom, a political scientist who was steeped in left-wing politics from childhood but became an influential conservative voice on racial equality, voting rights and education, died April 10 at a hospital in Arlington, Va. She was 83….
A year earlier, she challenged the creation of “majority-minority” electoral districts in her book “Whose Votes Count?,” arguing that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 successfully opened polling booths to Southern blacks but should never have been used to create “safe” seats for minority politicians.
The book was later described by the American Prospect as “a virtual bible among conservative jurists, including Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Clarence Thomas.” But it was far from a right-wing treatise, winning the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (given to works focused on racism and diversity), and it marked what Dr. Thernstrom described as a continuation of her longtime views.
Abby and I often (but not always) disagreed on voting issues, but I always found her to be warm and generous in our interactions. Condolences to her family and friends.