Derrick A. Bell, Jr. Papers 1950-2006

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Derrick A. Bell, Jr. Papers 1950-2006

Derrick Albert Bell, Jr. was born in 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bell, a distinguished scholar and prolific writer on current issues, most notably civil rights in the United States, is a tenured member of the faculty at the New York University Law School. He earned his BA in Political Science from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and his LLB from the University of Pittsburgh in 1957. After serving for two years as a staff attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, he resigned because the department asked him to withdraw his membership from the NAACP. Bell became assistant counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and between 1960 and 1966 he administered 300 desegregation cases regarding schools and restaurant chains in the South. When Bell joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1969, he became the first African-American professor at that institution. In 1981 Bell left Harvard for the University of Oregon Law School where he was Dean until 1985. He resigned his post at Oregon in protest over the University's refusal to offer a faculty position to a "woman of color". He returned to Harvard in 1986, but in 1991 took a visiting professorship at New York University to protest the lack of diversity of the Harvard Law School faculty. The Bell Papers, 1955-2006, are comprised of his correspondence, writings, and teaching materials.

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