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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 Three: Derrick Bell on Theory


s e c t i o n t h r e e Derrick Bell on Theory Derrick Bell’s Feminism Profeminism, Intersection, and the Multiple Jeopardy of Race and Gender adrienne d. dixson Derrick Albert Bell was born on November 6, 1930, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After 2 years in the Air Force, he attended law school at the University of Pitts- burgh. Bell went on to work for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, NAACP Legal Defense Fund and held several faculty positions in promi- nent law schools (“Biography of Professor Derrick Bell,” 2014). My scholarship in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and education has been sig- nificantly influenced by Bell. I was introduced to Bell and CRT through Faces at the Bottom of the Well (1992), a book I read while I was a sixth-grade teacher in New Orleans in the early 1990s. I had heard from people I worked with at a summer program that Faces was “controversial” and that Bell’s take on race was depressing. Thoroughly enthralled by his writing, I read the book in one week- end. Never had I encountered a “non-fiction” book that captivated me like Faces. Like anyone who reads Bell’s books and articles, I finished it hungry for more and armed with a new framework for understanding race and racism. This book and this “new” framework would soon become my intellectual home. As a first year doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I read an earlier book, And We Are...

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