In honor of Professor Derrick Bell, please leave your messages and tributes for the Bell Family below.

33 thoughts on “Guestbook


  2. Lisa — this is so beautiful and only you could do something so wonderful. I especially love the quote on justice that leads the site and the Guest Book is a great way for people to grieve together. I know how much Derrick and his wife mean to you and you should feel so lucky that you were able to be in NY for so long while Derrick was in his last years so that you could spend real, quality time together. I know he would be proud to see this site. My heart goes out to you and to his wife and family.

  3. My wife and I were in the first class Derrick offered at HLS: Race, Racism, and American Law. It was a transforming experience. Later, Derrick helped resolve a dispute we had about an article we wrote for publication in the Harvard Civil Rights Law Review. The article Geri and I wrote was on Norwalk C.O.R.E. vs. Norwalk Board of Education. At the same time our article appeared in HCRLR, Harvard Law Review had a note on the same case and subject matter. Those who read both felt that ours had a greater impact. Thank you Derrick for resolving the dispute in a way that contributed to the legal scholarship in a new way that was consistent with a committment to excellence without compromising a new point of view that expanded the discussion of an important topic.
    Ron and Geri Brown

  4. I will miss your taking notes during my sermons at First Presbyterian Church. I will miss oour “deep convewrsations when we walked to your local grocery store. Peace and blessings my brother.

  5. Well, everyone surely knows that I loved and admired Derrick as much as is humanly possible. He was a bright light in the muddied discussions and thoughts of our national history, a shining star in our confusion over what it means to be American, and a spiritual guide to our understanding of who we are as a people, a culture, a mighty creation.
    Derrick made sure that the rest of the world understood all of this, as well.
    And for this and so much more, I loved him to the very core of my being.

  6. In 2004 I nominated Derrick Bell for an honorary degree at John Jay College. He accepted that invitation along with Fred Gray, attorney for Rosa Parks. I nominated Professor Bell because he is worthy of so much honor. He was and continues to be my hero. While he has gone from labor to reward, may we all continue to do his work. The enemy is formidable but we must be the strong good. Rest in Peace Professor.

  7. As an alumni of Harvard and NYU School of Law I wish to express my deepest condolences to family, friends and students. All alumni, including the President and First Lady stand on the shoulders of giants such as Professor Bell. All the best. Palante!

  8. It was such amazing good fortune to know Derrick – whether through his writing, his teaching, his wise counsel or simply and most wonderfully, his friendship. Though we only met sporadically through the years, each meeting was a celebration and because he was who he was, the influence and inspiration of those exchanges reached far beyond any single encounter. He had the most delightful way of altering a point of view, changing the course of a life. The world is a different place, a more thoughtful and engaged and expansive space, because of him. When I think of the word “possible” I think of Derrick. We may no longer have the joy of his company, but surely his legacy and vision will live on, helping to shape a better future for us all.

  9. Dear Janet

    Derrick has been my life long friend. As my Cub Scout Den Leader, Unit leader at James Weldon Summer Camp and through all of his achievements in life we remained friends. In our community, it was felt that he would be someone very special and our predictions came true. In fact he exceeded those expectations. HE WAS A GREAT MAN, and inspite of his busy schedule,you and he honored us by attending our wedding ceremony. What a great day! He will be greatly missed.

    On behalf of my wife and I,we offer you our deepest sympathy.
    Sincerely yours,
    Richard and Stephanie Harris

  10. My dad was born in 1930, the same year as Derrick Bell, and they both served in Air Force ROTC. My dad met Derrick originally at Godman airfield near Fort Knox, Kentucky, and he was a great admirer of Derrick for his convivial manner and coolness under pressure. My dad was a very conservative guy from Georgetown University and a military boarding school, but Derrick won him over as well as many others. There were Southern whites — and undoubtedly some northerners — less than thrilled with Truman’s decision to integrate the armed forces, so Derrick had to contend with a tough environment.
    I met Derrick Bell at Harvard, and he was one of the only professors I ever saw willing to put his job on the line for principles. Over the decades, students and others have asked professors to join them for sit-ins and civil disobedience, and I can testify that it has been a rare historical moment when even one professor would put his or her body on the line. (Professor emeritus Ruth Hubbard in Biology was a notable exception).
    One of the things I liked about Derrick Bell was the range of his critique of Harvard’s hiring practices. He noted how he regarded himself as “a late academic bloomer,” and he went to a much less prestigious law school, the University of Pittsburgh. But he observed that there are people who went to less prestigious schools who later emerge as dynamic scholars, and normally Harvard will not even look at them. Almost every faculty hire at key Harvard departments seems to have a prestigious pedigree, and thus the university misses out on many outstanding talents. For decades, I would attend job talks at Harvard in certain departments (i.e., History), and almost every candidate came from either prestigious private universities or UC Berkeley or Oxbridge. Step outside of a dozen or so favored universities, and you probably have no chance of a job talk. Welcome to the “meritocracy.” Derrick knew how the machine worked, and he exposed how a juster process could produce a more intellectually diverse and exciting university. Sadly the people in power at today’s leading universities have no awareness of Derrick’s more expansive vision of diversity.

  11. I am seventy and beginning to really appreciate what men and women of my own generation were doing while I pursued success in business. I am very grateful to Doctor Bell and all the others for the life I have and now enjoy.

  12. I was so blessed to learn incredible things from Professor Bell at school. He was also gracious enough to allow my friend and I to cook for him in our home. He was such a wise, but approachable human being. I’m still a bit stunned that he passed away. I miss the casual conversations in his office where he gave great advice on the “little” things in life that get you through the day.

  13. My sincere condolences to the family of Mr., Professor, “My Inspiration” Derrick Bell
    Thank the almighty above for blessing me with the privilege of your existence in this wonderful world. You are loved and will be deeply missed, but not forgotten…amen.

  14. I am outraged by the insensitive remarks that have been made about the Late Professor Derrick Bell. The ignorance and foolishness of people who know very little about the contributions of such a great man, have no business commenting, let alone criticizing such a remarkable achiever.

    Thank you for your contributions to making our American democracy better, by being courageous in your work and all that you taught. God bless his wife for such a wonderful interview on the Ed Show last night.

    May America never stop speaking up about the violent racism that still litters our halls of justice as well as our media air waives.

  15. What an AMAZING MAN! Thank you FoxNews for doing some good and getting Mr.Bell known to everyone!

    Floating heart and sweet tears, thank you Bell family (Be proud and shine on)

  16. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I appreciate the work of Dr. Bell. I was first introduced to his thought during my undergraduate studies in the book, “Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement” edited by Kimberle Crenshaw, Nell Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas. In fact, I revisited an article written by him entitled, “Racial Realism” that is still revelant today. Having earned a Master of Science in Socio-Legal Studies (an interdisciplinary degree), I understand exactly where he was coming from with respect to contextualizing the law using social science, as well as recognizing that law must evolve due to the changing social conditions. Bell further suggested that the civil rights movement also needed to be reformed with a new strategy, as the idealogy of racial equality was insufficient. He offered in its place the concept of “Racial Realism.” He stated through “Racial Realism,” that “[w]e must realize, as our slave forebearers did, that the struggle for freedom is, at bottom, a manifestation of our humanity which survives and grows stronger through resistance to oppression, even if that oppression is never overcome.” As an example, he pointed out how Mrs. Biona MacDonald, a civil rights organizer from Harmony, near the Mississipi Delta, who, though, as powerless as she was, continued to fight through defiance, courage and determination. Bell indicated Mrs. MacDonald understood his theory and if we remember her story that we would understand his message. It is in that spirit, in honor of Dr. Bell that we press forward with a renewed strategy to combat both racial and gender inequality.

  17. I am currently in a Legal and Law course at Morgan State University, while finishing my coursework for the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program. Our professor, who is a lawyer had us to read and listen to professor Derrick Bell for our final project dealing with Ethics in Higher Education. I have heard often of Professor Bell, but now I can say I know him. Such a wealth of knowledge, so intellectual and powerful. I only wish I could have had him for a professor. Thank you for sharing his story, and honoring his legacy for others to learn more of him.

  18. Derrick Bell served as the Dean of my law school after he left Harvard. As a young law student just out of the United States Marine Corps, I watched him bring the same level of integrity and intensity to the University of Oregon Law School. Ultimately, “Dean” Bell resigned over the institutional biases in the hiring practices at the U of O. In the short time that he was there, I was lucky enough to sit in his Constitutional Law class where he shared his wonderful perspective with dignity, grace, and humanity. I was saddened to hear about his death. I am uplifted by the comments on this page.

    Semper Fidelis Dean Bell

  19. I was a student at the University of Oregon in the late 70′s, when I met the Bell family. As a Black freshman playing on the football team coming from Long Beach, California, the cluture shock was very real in Eugene, Oregon at that time. With a very few Black instructors on campus, it was at times hard to understand how and what to do regarding some of the things that were going at the time. I was so happy to find the the President of the Law School was a Black Man that I could talk to about anything.
    He understood what I saw and knew what it would take to open my mind to the things that were to be.
    What a blessing to have met and known him and his family !

    Dwight W.Ford
    Director of Sales
    ADCO Products Inc.

  20. I was unaware of the passing of Mr. Derrick Bell.I was made counscious of him from a book by Patrick. To his widow: Im sorry. He seemed to be a wonderful inspiration. This Daughter of Ihy loves you. May peace stay with you. From, Madam PresidentOctavia Wells.

  21. Derrick was a distant cousin of mine. His mother was my grandfather’s sister. Each time we visited, he showed me, he taught me that I had to stand strong in all ways. He believed in me at a time when I needed to know someone did and cared. Bless you Janet for making his years with you happy and content. I miss him very often. His voice, it was almost a whisper and yet always spoke with courage and conviction.

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