Aspen Publishing

Race, Racism, and American Law: Leading Cases and Materials

Derrick Bell, Cheryl I. Harris, Justin Hansford, Amna A. Akbar, Atiba Ellis, Audrey G. McFarlane


  • ISBN: 9781543850291

New print textbook PLUS lifetime access to the ebook, outline tool, and other resources at Access code for digital components included inside print book.

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  • Description

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  • Additional Product Details

    Publication Date: 1/6/2023
    Copyright: 2023
    Pages: 1,064
    Connected eBook + Print Book: 9781543850291
    Connected eBook: 9798886148367
    eBook: 9781543850307

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    Detailed Table of Contents Download (PDF)

  • Author Information

    Derrick Bell

    Derrick Bell's contributions as a civil rights advocate, intellectual instigator, scholar, and professor at Harvard University and New York University are immeasurable. His work and presence have been foundational to an entire field of law and legal scholarship, Critical Race Theory. He mentored generations of legal scholars, social justice advocates, and students, inspiring thousands to live out their commitments to fight racial injustice. He taught with his whole self by repeatedly demonstrating his willingness to contest the prevailing status quo. His passing in 2011 came before he could complete the seventh revision of his groundbreaking text, Race, Racism and American Law, first published in 1973. That text was the first of its kind and, like its author, was intellectually demanding, encyclopedic, and innovative. It was also a product of a restless spirit that did not settle for easy answers or self-reassuring platitudes. As a witness to and participant in a pivotal and historic period of the fight for racial justice, Professor Bell, perhaps more than many, understood both the possibility and limits of the law and relentlessly pursued the clear-eyed, unsentimental truth. He had seen that the trajectory of the struggle for racial justice was not a linear upward path but a jagged and sometimes nearly indiscernible road, with switchbacks, cutouts, cul-de-sacs, and only scattered lookouts of soaring vistas. Nevertheless, he insisted that we achieve a sense of direction by constantly testing and contesting ideas.

    Professor Bell's story and trajectory—from civil rights practice to theory—introduced a different way of approaching the study and teaching of law. Instead of centering the Supreme Court as the protagonist in the quest for civil and human rights, he centered the social movements that sought to enforce the promises and commitments codified in the country's fundamental law. He put it more eloquently than anyone else could: The movement for racial justice "was much more than the totality of the judicial decisions, the anti-discrimination laws and the changes in racial relationships reflected in those legal milestones…" His mission was to find "a method of expression adequate to the phenomenon of rights gained, then lost, then gained again." He helped us understand that the movement was not bound by time or existing doctrine. It was instead a commitment to carry the fight across generations, despite its repeated derailment.