Steve Jobs Isn’t The Only Important Person We’ve Lost; RIP Derrick Bell
The world is mourning over the death of Steve Jobs. But there is another significant figure that the world lost.
Derrick Bell, the first black professor at Harvard Law School and one of the leading U.S. scholars on racism, has died at the age of 80. Bell will also be best remembered for being an accomplished author, the founder of critical race theory and for standing on his principals.
As a young man he quit his job at the Justice Department rather than resign from the NAACP. He also gave up his lofty position as a teacher at Harvard in order to protest their minority hiring record in 1990 and took an unpaid leave of absence until the school appointed a female of color to its tenured faculty. At the time, of the law school’s 60 tenured professors, only three were black and five were women. The school had never had a black woman on the tenured staff to that point. Bell had the support of students who held vigils and protests in his support. He’s also held positions as the dean of the University of Oregon School of Law, being the first African-American to head a non-black law school.
He’s penned several books dissecting race including Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism, Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform and Race, Racism & Law amongst others. You can find more of his books here.
You may also seen his work on the big screen. In Reggie Hudlin‘s 1994 film Cosmic Slop, Bell’s short story Space Traders was adapted.
Sadly, Bell succumbed to carcinoid cancer at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.
He will sorely be missed.