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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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Afterword: The Ethics of Derrick Bell: Oh, How He Loved


“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” —john 15:13 (new american standard bible) Derrick Bell lived a life of love. His professional life is best characterized as one of sacrifice on behalf of others. Sadly, after his death, he was “Fox-Newsed.” I use this term to describe 24-hour cable television talk shows that distort the truth, while attempting to appear to engage in objective investigative reporting. The show’s report is framed as the logical presentation of facts. Rather than provide the results of a deep and thoughtful investigation, the show largely provides the opinion of a small number of individuals characterized as experts. The talk show makes a rational appeal (logos), then fails to generate factual evidence. Instead, it offers testimony (ethos) from questionable experts. The rhetorical appeals are conflated and the resulting information is not verifiable. While Fox News is the focus here, the 24-hour cable news cycle has generated a culture of sensationalism, entertain- ment, and opinion at the expense of depth and verification (Kovach & Rosensteil, 2010). Verifying the truth is a challenge that extends beyond the reporting of one particular cable news station. In the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election, Fox News host Sean Hannity organized a panel discussion to critique Derrick Bell’s perspectives on race and the United States (Hannity, 2012). Professor Bell was not the main target of critique. The primary aim of the panel was to provide a historical narra- tive...

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