The Story Behind a Letter in Support of Professor Derrick Bell
11 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2016
Date Written: 2014
Professor Derrick A. Bell, Jr. had a long and proud history of disturbing authority. He is widely noted as one of the founders of Critical Race Theory. His scholarship on race was not only a direct challenge to the traditionally conservative legal academy, but also to the more liberal bastions within the academy, such as the Critical Legal Studies movement. His writings about the role of race in American law have made him one of the most prominent legal scholars of a generation.
However, Professor Bell did not merely write about racial injustices. He was willing to take risks to promote racial equality and ideological balance in the legal academy. In 1980, he resigned his deanship at the University of Oregon School of Law after the faculty refused to honor his recommendation that an Asian-American woman, Pat K. Chew, be hired. In 1987, after returning to Harvard, Professor Bell staged a sit-in to protest the Law School’s failure to grant tenure to two white professors, Claire Dalton and David Trubek, whose work was aligned with the Critical Legal Studies movement.
Keywords: Derrick A. Bell Jr., Critical Race Theory, Critical Legal Studies
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