Friday, October 7, 2011
Derrick Bell, the pathbreaking and sometimes controversial law professor who was in the vanguard of critical race theory, passed away Wednesday. Bell, who was the only African-American student in his 1957 class at Pitt Law, became the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard Law School. He left Harvard for several years to serve as Dean of the University of Oregon, but he later rejoined the faculty. In 1990, he left HLS for good and became a permanent visitor on the NYU Law faculty in protest of Harvard's failure to hire an African-American woman to the tenured faculty. Bell's academic reach extended well beyond law schools; his work was influential for race scholars working across the social sciences. He was 80.