Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Friday, October 7, 2011

DERRICK BELL, JR.

I have just learned that Derrick Bell has died at the age of eighty. I shall not try to recapitulate his important career. Check out the lengthy obituary in the NY TIMES today. Bell was a legal scholar, the godfather of Critical Race Theory, and a courageous fighter for racial justice throughout his long life. Perhaps his most famous moment, and one I have always loved for its delicious irony, was a "sit-in" he staged in his own office at Harvard Law School to protest Harvard's failure to give tenure to two young critical race theorists. Harvard Law School's faculty are notorious for their inaccessibility to students. Staging a sit-in in his own office was a brilliant way of giving the finger to his distinguished colleagues.

In 1990, I got to know Bell a bit by mail, though we never met. He had taken an unpaid leave from Harvard Law School to protest their hiring policies, and when I read about it, I sent him a supportive letter and a check for a thousand dollars to help tide him over the time without a regular salary. He wrote a lovely letter back, assuring me that he was ok financially, and turned the check over to a fund that had been established to honor his wife, who had very recently died.

His passing is a loss to the Academy, to African-Americans, and to all Americans. He will be missed.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Professor Wolff --

In the early 90s when Professor Bell left Harvard for NYU, I was volunteering at Revolution Books in Harvard Square. In the weeks leading up to his move from Cambridge to New York, Professor Bell would stop in the store with boxes of books and LP record albums for us to sell second hand. While we fully supported his decision to leave Harvard, we were nonetheless sad to see him go.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

It was a great loss for Harvard, and a corresponding gain for NYU. As I recall, his supposedely radical Critical Legal Theory colleagues at Harvard offered very little in the way of visible support for him.