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A couple of decades and some years ago, when I was a civil rights attorney in Washington D.C., I stopped by a bookstore café for a quiet lunch and to review a case file before an afternoon meeting. A book jacket of a man looking forward with intention and purpose captured my attention. The words on the cover corroborated his gaze: Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protester. He was Derrick Bell, a civil rights attorney, activist, law school professor, and writer. I had read several of Professor Bell’s law review articles but not his autobiographical writings and had never seen his photograph before seeing the dignified cover, so I purchased the book and read it that evening. Bell’s words were stunning: “Four years have passed since I announced on April 24, 1990, that I would take an unpaid leave from my position on the Harvard Law School faculty until at least one woman of color was appointed to the faculty on a permanent basis.” ...

This Article discusses Critical Race Theory. It is vital to consider the origin and founder’s intent to understand an area of scholarship that has developed over forty or more years. Many, if not most, critical race theorists credit Derrick Bell as the professor who founded or inspired Critical Race Theory. As discussed, Bell served as lead civil rights attorney in over 300 civil rights school desegregation cases. Then, he taught law courses for over forty years, examined race and law topics, and wrote numerous law review articles and books. He also made innumerable speeches, and as a scholar, he studied the root causes of racism and patterns of discrimination. Bell’s work as a civil rights attorney and law professor mainly focused on race and law issues impacting Black people in America. Part II, A and B examine CRT by studying two of Derrick Bell’s earliest law review articles that address critical race issues, written before legal scholars officially named the area of study Critical Race Theory. The articles discuss essential issues of race in school desegregation litigation following the landmark Supreme Court of the United States decisions in Brown v. Board of Education I and II.