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«Covenant Keeper»

Derrick Bell’s Enduring Education Legacy


Edited By Gloria Ladson-Billings and William Tate

Although he spent his career as a lawyer and law school professor, Derrick Bell had a profound impact on the field of education in the area of educational equity. Among many accomplishments, Bell was the first African American to earn tenure at the Harvard Law School; he also established a new course in civil rights law and produced what has become a famous casebook: Race, Racism, and American Law. The man who could rightly be called, «The Father of Critical Race Theory,» Bell was an innovator who did things with the law that others had not thought possible. This volume highlights Bell’s influence on a number of prominent education and legal scholars by identifying some of his specific work and how they have used it to inform their own thinking and practice. What is contained here is an assemblage of contributors with deep commitments to the path-breaking work of Derrick Bell – a scholar, a teacher, an activist, a mentor, and a covenant keeper.


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Section One: Derrick Bell Teaching and Schooling


Derrick Bell Teaching and Schooling s e c t i o n o n e “America eats its young” —funkadelic, beane, clinton, & worrell (1972) It is incredibly difficult to select just one piece of Derrick Bell’s work as having a profound impact on me. I loved the entire volume, And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice (Bell, 1987). It was my introduction to Bell’s creative and playful approach to the legal scholarship. It was clear that he wanted his read- ers to understand the law from the inside out. It was my first exposure to Critical Race Theory and I did not even know it. I just knew I was reading an engaging, critical, insightful look at race in a distinctly different way. His work was provoc- ative and cutting-edge. No sooner had I completed that volume than I started looking for other things written by Derrick Bell and I have spent my scholarly career absorbing as much of his work as I could. For those who regard Bell as someone who merely “translates” law to the broader public, I would challenge you to peruse a copy of Bell’s (2008) classic legal text, Race, Racism and American Law, which is in its sixth edition. For more than 35 years this has been the seminal text on race and law in the United States. Those who want to understand Bell as a legal scholar are obligated to read this incredible assemblage of legal cases that detail how...

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