Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative political scientist, is a former Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York, a member of the Massachusetts Board of Education, and vice chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Government, Harvard University, in 1975. She is a Republican.
Thernstrom and her husband, Harvard historian Stephan Thernstrom, are the co-authors of America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible (Simon & Schuster), which the New York Times Book Review, in its annual end-of-the-year issue, named as one of the notable books of 1997.
President Bill Clinton chose her as one of three authors to participate in his first "town meeting" on race in Akron, Ohio, on December 3, 1997, and she was part of a small group that met with the President again in the Oval Office on December 19.
She has spoken out against redistricting to create more minority dominated districts to support their interests, citing that racial barriers have fallen significantly to the point that it is not necessary and may be detrimental. Although she is considered by some to be opposed to affirmative action, she has stated that with the election of Obama to presidency, that it does signify the disappearance of racial barriers.
Her daughter is author Melanie Thernstrom.
- Official Biography from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
- Center for Equal Opportunity website
- Rachel Swarns (24 August 2008). "Blacks Debate Civil Rights Risk in Obama’s Rise". NY Times. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Booknotes interview with Thernstrom on No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning, February 1, 2004.