A 1997 piece from the Fordham Law Review lists Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren as the “first woman of color” hired by Harvard Law School, according to reports.
The article, which was unearthed by Politico, was titled ”Intersectionality and positionality: Situating women of color in the affirmative action dialogue.” The author, Laura Padilla, who now serves as the Associate Dean of California Western Law School in San Diego, CA., reportedly based her description on a phone conversation with then Harvard Law spokesman, Mike Chmura.
There is no evidence that Warren was aware of the article- or that she necessarily ever read it.
Chmura is also the Harvard spokesman who described Warren as Native American in a 1996 Crimson article. Questions about Warrens ancestry and whether her career benefited from it have sidetracked the Massachusetts senate race for weeks.
Hard evidence of Warren’s Native American ancestry has so far not turned up. The New England Historic Genealogical Society found secondary sources tracing Warren’s heritage to her great-great-great grandmother who was listed as Cherokee on an 1894 marriage license application, but that document has yet to be located, the society told ABC News in an email.
“Per several requests from the media, New England Historic Genealogical Society genealogists conducted some initial genealogical research on Elizabeth Warren’s maternal family. During this research we discovered several family members who noted Cherokee Indian lineage via Elizabeth Warren’s 3rd great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith (c.1794-1860s)” spokesman Tom Champoux said in an email.
“This includes a March 2006 family newsletter that references Smith’s son William J. Crawford (1837-1900) and his 1894 marriage license application in Oklahoma. The newsletter states that, based on research conducted by Lynda Smith, the application includes a reference of O. C. Sarah Smith being Cherokee Indian. The marriage license itself does not reference race, and the original application, which Ms. Smith references, has not been located.”
In a statement Jim Barnett, the campaign manager for Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s re-election bid, described the development as “disturbing.”
“This new revelation that Harvard characterized Elizabeth Warren as a ‘woman of color’ in the context of affirmative action is a clear indication that something is deeply wrong” said Brown’s campaign manager Jim Barnett.
“As we all now know, Professor Warren is not a minority, her ridiculous claims notwithstanding. She is certainly not a ‘woman of color.’ This disturbing development illustrates why it is critically important that Warren, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania stop stonewalling, release her personnel records and come clean about why Warren is continuously represented as a minority hire at these schools.”
Warren’s campaign issued a statement through spokeswoman Alethea Harney, saying that there was “nothing new in this report” and calling for a return to discussing the issues.
“There is nothing new in this report. Elizabeth has been clear that she is proud of her Native American heritage and everyone who hired Elizabeth has been clear that she was hired because she was a great teacher, not because of that heritage” Harney said.
“It’s time to return to issues – like rising student loan debt, job creation, and Wall Street regulation – that will have a real impact on middle class families. It’s also time for Scott Brown to answer serious questions about his votes to let interest rates on student loans double so our kids pay more while he votes to give oil companies – some of the most profitable companies in the world – tax breaks worth billions. There are plenty more, like his votes against jobs bills because they’d make billionaires pay their fair share, or his votes to water down rules to hold Wall Street accountable that have brought him millions in campaign contributions. Scott Brown’s explanation for these votes against Massachusetts families is long overdue.”