Derrick Albert Bell, Jr. (November 6, 1930 – October 5, 2011) was the first tenured African-American professor of Law at Harvard University, and largely credited as the originator of Critical Race Theory. He was the former dean of the University of Oregon School of Law.
Born in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Bell received an A.B. from Duquesne University in 1952 and an LL.B. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1957. After graduation, and after a recommendation from then United States Associate Attorney General William Rogers, Bell took a position with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. He was the only black person working for the Justice Department at the time. In 1959, the government asked him to resign his membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) because it was thought that his objectivity, and that of the department, might be compromised or called into question. Bell quit rather than giving up his NAACP membership.
Soon afterwards, Bell took a position as an assistant counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), crafting legal strategies at the forefront of the battle to undo racist laws and segregation in schools. At the LDF, he worked alongside other prominent civil rights attorneys such as Thurgood Marshall, Robert L. Carter and Constance Baker Motley. Bell was assigned to Mississippi, the cradle of the deep South, where racism was at its most virulent and entrenched. While working at the LDF, Bell supervised more than 300 school desegregation cases and spearheaded the fight of James Meredith to secure admission to the University of Mississippi over the protests of Governor Ross Barnett.
"I learned a lot about evasiveness, and how racists could use a system to forestall equality," Bell was quoted as saying in The Boston Globe ... "I also learned a lot riding those dusty roads and walking into those sullen hostile courts in Jackson, Mississippi. It just seems that unless something's pushed, unless you litigate, nothing happens."
On October 5, 2011, Bell died from carcinoid cancer at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, at the age of 80. MORE...
Thursday, March 08, 2012
Who was Derrick Bell?