Hot Topic Program: The Singular Legacy of Professor Derrick Bell:
This 2012 Annual Meeting is a first opportunity for AALS to acknowledge the debt legal education owes to Professor Derrick Bell (1930-2011), the first African American professor at Harvard and a world-renowned scholar teacher-activist. His signature written work includes his path breaking 1973 casebook Race, Racism, And American Law, his 1985 Harvard Law Review Forward: The Civil Rights Chronicles, and his numerous books--And We Are Not Saved; 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 (2004); Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protester; Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth. Not only did he enrich our scholarly debate. He acted to confront our complacency with the racial and gender status quo.
This panel reviews his legacy and discusses the relevance of that legacy for our present and future. That legacy includes his critique of law as a limited path to equality for African Americans, his critique of Brown’s integration remedy, his work to diversify law school student and professorial ranks, the founding of critical race theory which examines the role of law in the maintenance and elimination of racial subordination, his specific narrative and interdisciplinary scholarly innovations, his pedagogical commitment to place students at the center of the learning process, his commitment to the mentoring of a broad scholarly community, and his insistence that conscience, morality, and protest remain an integral part of academic duty.