Gregory H. Shill is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law. Even though 45 percent of Harvard Law’s faculty appointments during the preceding decade had gone to minorities and women, none was both black and female—hence Professor Bell’s objection.11 Bell’s students dutifully echoed the professor’s mantra, bleating that they desperately needed black women role models” to help them combat the status quo” that was dominated by white men.” When Harvard’s dean stated that no attempt to increase diversity” should override the University’s commitment to academic excellence, the protesters called his position highly insulting to blacks” and symbolic of the elitism of Harvard.”12 It is reasonable to assume that Barack Obama, who helped galvanize campus support for Derrick Bell’s crusade on behalf of black women, more or less shared these views.
By now, you may already have seen the 1991 video footage of Barack Obama , who was then a 30-year-old student at Harvard Law School , speaking in glowing terms about Harvard professor Derrick Bell , whom Obama described as a man known for speaking the truth” and for an excellence of … scholarship” that had not only opened up new vistas and new horizons,” but had changed the standards of what legal writing is about.” Open up your hearts and your minds to the words of Professor Derrick Bell,” Obama urged the sizable crowd which had gathered to show their support for Professor Bell that day.
Since the law school refuses to provide adequate institutional support for an office of diversity and inclusion, hire critical race theorists, promote staff of color in the workplace to management positions in their due course, provide adequate contextualization in curricula, educate its professors, its staff, and its students around cultural competency, take the steps that are necessary to accord adequate and equal dignity to marginalized students and staff, Reclaim Harvard Law aims to provide that space at the law school.
Because black crime, he explained, benefits many whites such as those who profit from the manufacture of prison uniforms.9 Wholly disgusted by the white race, Bell predicted that eventually America would witness the rise of charismatic new black leaders who, in the interests of retribution, would urge that instead of African Americans killing each other, they should go out in gangs and kill a whole lot of white people.”10 Presumably this was some of the lofty scholarship” that so impressed Barack Obama.
This year at commencement, we urge both members of the Harvard Law School community, and others interested in the state of legal education at Harvard, to consider how the past four graduating classes have been thinking small, through their selection of mendacious moral midgets to speak on Class Day.