Derrick A. Bell, Jr.

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Derrick Bell "became the first tenured black professor at the Harvard Law School in 1971. He relinquished it in 1992, when he refused to return from a two-year, unpaid leave of absence he took to protest the lack of women of color on the faculty.

"Professor Bell is not a newcomer to personal protests of this nature. In 1980, he left Harvard for five years to accept the deanship at the Oregon Law School. Bell left the post in Oregon when the faculty directed that he not extend an offer to an Asian American woman faculty candidate who, after an extended search, had been listed third on the list. When the top two candidates (both white males) declined the position, the faculty decided to reopen the search rather than extend an offer to the Asian American woman.

"Prior to the positions at Harvard and the University of Oregon, Derrick Bell has served as Executive Director of the Western Center on Law and Poverty at the University of Southern California Law School, Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Deputy Director of the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

"Bell has been widely published in professional journals (legal journals published by Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Michigan, Berkeley Pennsylvania, U.C.L.A., Wisconsin and several other schools), national magazines (Essence, Mother Jones), and newspapers (New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, and The Christian Science Monitor). His book Race, Racism, and American Law, published initially in 1973 is now in its third edition, and his book, Constitutional Conflicts, published in 1997, is a text intended for basic constitutional law courses. Bell's autobiographical work, Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protester offers an honest appraisal of his struggles as an educator, writer and non-conformist in a society plagued by racism.

"Derrick Bell is known for the series of allegorical stories featuring his fictional heroine, Geneva Crenshaw. Those titles are: And We Are Not Saved; Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism; and Gospel Choirs: Psalms of Survival in an Alien Land Called Home. The next book in the Geneva Crenshaw series, Afrolantica Legacies, was published in 1998 by Third World Press. Additionally, Professor Bell's story "Space Traders" from his book Faces at the Bottom of the Well was produced as an HBO movie featuring Robert Guillaume in 1994." [1]

His book Race, Racism and American Law (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1973) was published "directly or indirectly under grants from the" Ford Foundation." [2]

He also received fellowships from the Ford Foundation in 1972 and 1975. [3]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Derrick A. Bell, Jr., New York University, accessed October 24, 2007.
  2. Annual Report 1973, Ford Foundation, accessed October 24, 2007.
  3. Biographical Dictionary of Modern American Educators, accessed October 24, 2007.
  4. About, New Politics, accessed July 24, 2009.