derrick bell, influential legal scholar, dies at 80

While your social media streams mourned the death of tech innovation icon Steven Jobs, yesterday also saw the death of civil rights icon. Derrick Bell, a pioneer of critical race theory and the first tenured black professor at Harvard Law School, died Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 80: Derrick Bell, Law Professor and Rights Advocate, Dies at 80.

Bell was admired as an academic and activist who never let a prestigious job get in the way of sticking to his convictions. He had an impressive list of high-profile positions and institutions on his resume, but is perhaps best remembered for famously turning his back on them in protest of racist hiring practices. One incident in 1986 particularly stands out to this blog:
In 1980 he left Harvard to become dean of the University of Oregon School of Law, but he resigned in 1985 when the school did not offer a position to an Asian-American woman. After returning to Harvard in 1986, he staged a five-day sit-in in his office to protest the school's failure to grant tenure to two professors whose work involved critical race theory.

In 1990 he took an unpaid leave of absence, vowing not to return until the school hired, for the first time, a black woman to join its tenured faculty. His employment effectively ended when the school refused to extend his leave. By then, he was teaching at New York University School of Law, where he remained a visiting professor until his death. Harvard Law School hired Professor Guinier in 1998.
Does anyone know who that Asian American faculty candidate was? I'm curious. This is a man who put his career on the line to speak out and stand up for what he believed in. Could you do the same? More here: Derrick Bell, Influential Legal Scholar, Dies At 80.

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