Barack Obama At Harvard Law School And Derrick Bell–Videos

Posted on March 8, 2012. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, College, Communications, Economics, Education, Employment, Federal Government, government, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Politics, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , |

CNN Desperately Defends Obama’s Relationship with Radical Professor

Critical race theory – Breitart & the Obama connection

Obama Protesting at Harvard in 1991

“Barack Obama in a 1990 video at Harvard protests in favor of the cause of Professor Derek Bell and the hiring of more minority faculty members.”

GBR: Obama tapes unveiled

#VetThePres – Michelle Malkin – Sean Hannity – 3-7-12

Andrew Breitbart, “I have Obama Videos,” dead at 43

Steve Bannon: We Are Going to Release the Obama Harvard Tapes in One Week to 10 Days

Harvard Law Classmate Describes Barack Obama

Obama’s Campaign for President of the Harvard Law Review 

1995 Obama Interview

Obama Flashback: His 2000 appearance on Chicago Tonight

Obama Professor Derrick Bell on The Permanence of Racism (1992)

An Overview of Critical Race Theory

Derrick Bell Describes Marxist Foundation of Critical Race Theory

Professor Derrick Bell

Derrick Bell: My Family

Derrick Bell: Pioneer of the Protest Movement – Part 1

Derrick Bell: Pioneer of the Protest Movement – Part 2

Civil Rights Pioneer Derrick Bell Speaks at College of Law

Who is Obama’s Derrick Bell (VIDEO)

Who is Professor Derrick Bell that Obama referred to at a Harvard University protest? (VIDEO from 2002 Harlem Book Fair)

Critical Race Theory, Part 1

Critical Race Theory, Part 2

Critical Race Theory, Part 3

The Vetting: CNN Implodes Over Breitbart’s Obama/Bell Video

Derrick Bell

“…Derrick Albert Bell, Jr. (November 6, 1930 – October 5, 2011)[1] 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.

Education and early career

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Bell quit rather than giving up his NAACP membership.[citation needed]

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. [2]

“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.”[3]

Academic career

USC and Harvard

In the mid-1960s Bell was appointed to the law faculty of the University of Southern California as executive director of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. In 1969, with the help of protests from black Harvard Law School students for a minority faculty member, Bell was hired to teach there. At Harvard, Bell established a new course in civil rights law, published a celebrated case book, Race, Racism and American Law, and produced a steady stream of law review articles. As a teacher, Bell became a mentor and role model to a generation of students of color, but he played a delicate balancing act at the university. Bell became the first black tenured professor in Harvard Law School’s history and called on the university to improve its minority hiring record. But shortly after his tenure in 1971, a white university vice-president tried to purchase a house that Bell had been previously offered through the university; Bell saw this as a case of discrimination. This was the first case in which Bell’s charges of racism would mobilize his supporters, who championed his efforts to stand up for principle, and anger his detractors, who accused him of being too quick with his allegations of bigotry.[3]

 Protests over faculty diversity

In 1980 Bell became the dean of the University of Oregon School of Law, becoming one of the first African-Americans to ever head a non-black law school. He resigned in 1985 over a dispute about faculty diversity.[1] Bell then taught at Stanford University for a year.

Returning to Harvard in 1986, Bell staged a five-day sit-in in his office to protest the school’s failure to grant tenure to two legal scholars on staff, both of whom adhered to a movement in legal philosophy that claims legal institutions play a role in the maintenance of the ruling class’ position. The administration claimed substandard scholarship and teaching on the part of the professors as the reason for the denial of tenure, but Bell called it an unambiguous attack on ideology. Bell’s sit-in galvanized student support but sharply divided the faculty.[3]

Bell reentered the debate over hiring practices at Harvard in 1990, when he vowed to take an unpaid leave of absence until the school appointed a female of color to its tenured faculty.[4] At the time, of the law school’s 59 tenured professors, only three were black and five were women. The school had never had a black woman on the tenured staff.[3]

Students held vigils and protests in solidarity with Bell with the support of some faculty. Critics, including some faculty members, called Bell’s methods counterproductive, and Harvard administration officials insisted they had already made enormous advances in hiring.[3] The story of his protest is detailed in his book Confronting Authority.

To some observers, Bell’s lament about Harvard amounted to a call for the school to lower its academic qualifications in the quest to mold a diversified faculty on the campus. But Bell argued that academically able faculty were being ignored and that critics of diversity invariably underplay the value of a faculty that is broadly reflective of society, and, more importantly, that the credentials demanded by institutions like Harvard perpetuate the domination of white, well-off, middle-aged men. As he commented in the Boston Globe, “Let’s look at a few qualifications–say civil rights experience … that might allow [a chance at a tenured teaching position for] more folks here who, like me, maybe didn’t go to the best law school but instead have made a real difference in the world.”[3]

Bell’s protest at Harvard stirred angry criticism by Harvard Law faculty who called him “a media manipulator who unfairly attacked the school. Others say he has deprived students of an education while he makes money on the lecture circuit. Bell, 61, has even drawn fire from some women at Harvard, who complain that he has unfairly hijacked their issue. “This guy is a victim of his own self-delusion,” says one faculty member who asked not to be identified. “He’s an example of the Harvard syndrome: People here can say the most idiotic things, and the only reason they get into print is because they’re from the Harvard Law School.”[5]

 Visiting professorship

In 1992, Bell, who had taken a visiting professorship at New York University, was formally removed from the Harvard faculty. In a speech to Harvard students quoted in the Boston Globe, Bell urged the future scholars and activists to continue the moral fights that he had championed, saying: “Your faith in what you believe must be a living, working faith that draws you away from comfort and security, and toward risk through confrontation.”[3]

Harvard ultimately hired civil rights attorney and U.S. Assistant Attorney General nominee Lani Guinier shortly after Bell left. After Bell’s two year leave of absence, Harvard refused to grant an extension and terminated his faculty position. Bell remained at NYU Law where he continued to write and lecture on issues of race and civil rights.

 Academic contributions

Bell is arguably the most influential source of thought critical of traditional civil rights discourse. Bell’s critique represented a challenge to the dominant liberal and conservative position on civil rights, race and the law. He employed three major arguments in his analyses of racial patterns in American law: constitutional contradiction, the interest convergence principle, and the price of racial remedies.

Bell continued writing about critical race theory after accepting a teaching position at Harvard University. Much of his legal scholarship was influenced by his experience both as a black man and as a civil rights attorney. Writing in a narrative style, Bell contributed to the intellectual discussions on race. According to Bell, his purpose in writing was to examine the racial issues within the context of their economic and social and political dimensions from a legal standpoint.

For instance, in The Constitutional Contradiction, Bell argued that the framers of the Constitution chose the rewards of property over justice. With regard to the interest convergence, he maintains that “whites will promote racial advances for blacks only when they also promote white self-interest.” Finally, in The Price of Racial Remedies, Bell argues that whites will not support civil rights policies that may threaten white social status.

Bell was also the author of a number of books and short stories, including “Ethical Ambition” and “The Space Traders,” a science fiction story in which white Americans sell black Americans to space aliens in order to pay off the national debt.

Derrick Bell was a supporter of animal rights.[6]


On October 5, 2011, Bell died from carcinoid cancer at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, at the age of 80.[1]

Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic discipline focused upon the intersection of race, law and power.

Although no set of canonical doctrines or methodologies defines CRT, the movement is loosely unified by two common areas of inquiry. First, CRT has analyzed the way in which racial hierarchies are reproduced over time, and in particular, the role that law plays in this process. Second, CRT work has investigated the possibility of transforming the relationship between law and racial power, and more broadly, the possibility of achieving racial emancipation and anti-subordination.[1]

Appearing in US law schools in the mid- to late 1980s, Critical Race Theory began as a reaction to Critical Legal Studies,[2]. Scholars like Derrick Bell applauded the focus of civil rights scholarship on race, but were deeply critical of civil rights scholars’ commitment to colorblindness and their focus on intentional discrimination, rather than a broader focus on the conditions of racial inequality.[3] Likewise, scholars like Patricia Williams, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Mari Matsuda

Key theoretical elements

Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic have documented the following major themes as characteristic of work in critical race theory:

  • A critique of liberalism: CRT scholars favor a more aggressive approach to social transformation as opposed to liberalism’s more cautious approach, favor a race conscious approach to transformation rather than liberalism’s embrace of color blindness, and favor an approach that relies more on political organizing, in contrast to liberalism’s reliance on rights-based remedies.
  • Storytelling/counterstorytelling and “naming one’s own reality”–using narrative to illuminate and explore experiences of racial oppression.
  • Revisionist interpretations of American civil rights law and progress—criticizing civil rights scholarship and anti-discrimination law.
  • Applying insights from social science writing on race and racism to legal problems.
  • Structural determinism, or how “the structure of legal thought or culture influences its content.”
  • The intersections of race, sex, and class–e.g., how poor Latinas’ experience of domestic violence needs distinctive remedies.
  • Essentialism and anti-essentialism—reducing the experience of a category (like gender or race) to the experience of one sub-group (like white women or African-Americans).
  • Cultural nationalism/separatism, Black nationalism–exploring more radical views arguing for separation and reparations as a form of foreign aid.
  • Legal institutions, critical pedagogy, and minority lawyers in the bar.

As a movement that draws heavily from critical theory, critical race theory shares many intellectual commitments with CLS and critical theory, feminist jurisprudence, and postcolonial theory.

Recent developments in critical race theory include work relying on updated social psychology research on unconscious bias, to justify affirmative action; and work relying on law and economics methodology to examine Structural Inequality and discrimination in the workplace.[5]


Scholars in Critical Race Theory have focused with some particularity on the issues of hate crime and hate speech. In response to the US Supreme Court’s opinion in the hate speech case of R. A. V. v. City of St. Paul (1992), in which the Court struck down an anti-bias ordinance as applied to a teenager who had burned a cross, Mari Matsuda and Charles Lawrence argued that the Court had paid insufficient attention to the history of racist speech and the actual injury produced by such speech.[6] The Court has since adopted this historicist position in Virginia v. Black (2003), finding that cross burning with an intent to intimidate can be legally prohibited.[citation needed]

Critical race theorists have also paid particular attention to the issue of affirmative action. Many scholars have argued in favor of affirmative action on the argument that so-called merit standards for hiring and educational admissions are not race-neutral for a variety of reasons, and that such standards are part of the rhetoric of neutrality through which whites justify their disproportionate share of resources and social benefits.[7]


Many mainstream legal scholars have criticized CRT on a number of grounds, including some scholars’ use of narrative and storytelling, as well as the critique of objectivity adopted by critical race theorists in connection with the critique of merit. Daniel Farber and Suzanna Sherry have argued that critical race theory, along with critical feminism and critical legal studies, has anti-Semitic and anti-Asian implications, has worked to undermine notions of democratic community and has impeded dialogue.[8] Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago has “label[ed] critical race theorists and postmodernists the ‘lunatic core’ of ‘radical legal egalitarianism.’”[9] He writes,

What is most arresting about critical race theory is that…it turns its back on the Western tradition of rational inquiry, forswearing analysis for narrative. Rather than marshal logical arguments and empirical data, critical race theorists tell stories — fictional, science-fictional, quasi-fictional, autobiographical, anecdotal — designed to expose the pervasive and debilitating racism of America today. By repudiating reasoned argumentation, the storytellers reinforce stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of nonwhites.[9]

Judge Alex Kozinski, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, writes that Critical Race Theorists have constructed a philosophy which makes a valid exchange of ideas between the various disciplines unattainable.

The radical multiculturalists’ views raise insuperable barriers to mutual understanding. Consider the Space Traders story. How does one have a meaningful dialogue with Derrick Bell? Because his thesis is utterly untestable, one quickly reaches a dead end after either accepting or rejecting his assertion that white Americans would cheerfully sell all blacks to the aliens. The story is also a poke in the eye of American Jews, particularly those who risked life and limb by actively participating in the civil rights protests of the 1960s. Bell clearly implies that this was done out of tawdry self-interest. Perhaps most galling is Bell’s insensitivity in making the symbol of Jewish hypocrisy the little girl who perished in the Holocaust — as close to a saint as Jews have. A Jewish professor who invoked the name of Rosa Parks so derisively would be bitterly condemned — and rightly so.[10]

Henry Louis Gates Jr. has written a critical evaluation of CRT.[11] Gates emphasizes how campus speech codes and anti-hate speech laws have been applied contrary to the intentions of CRT theorists: “During the year in which Michigan’s speech code was enforced, more than twenty blacks were charged – by whites – with racist speech. As Trossen notes, not a single instance of white racist speech was punished.” Gates gives several further examples such as this one: “What you don’t hear from the hate speech theorists is that the first casualty of the MacKinnonite anti-obscenity ruling was a gay and lesbian bookshop in Toronto, which was raided by the police because of a lesbian magazine it carried.”

Offshoot fields

Within Critical Race Theory, various sub-groupings have emerged to focus on issues that fall outside the black-white paradigm of race relations as well as issues that relate to the intersection of race with issues of gender, sexuality, class and other social structures. See for example, Critical Race Feminism (CRF), Latino Critical Race Studies (LatCrit)[12] Asian American Critical Race Studies (AsianCrit) and American Indian Critical Race Studies (sometimes called TribalCrit).

Critical Race Theory has also begun to spawn research that looks at understandings of race outside the United States.[13]

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