Who Was Derrick Bell? - Professor Hailed By Obama In Video

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Conservatives are attacking the media for supposedly underplaying President Barack Obama's relationship with the late Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell after the so-called bombshell video Andrew Breitbart promised before his death was finally released.

In a column on Breitbart.com, John Nolte accuses Buzzfeed's Ben Smith of editing the video to protect Obama and gushes over how this video of a college-age Obama only backs up all the glorious things we already know about him (the video was posted by Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski). Breitbart.com editor-in-chief Joel Pollak and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro appeared on Fox News Wednesday night to chastise the media for its alleged liberal bias.

Is the much-anticipated video really all that shocking? It shows Obama in 1991, then president of the Harvard Law Review, asking a group of students to open your hearts and open your minds to the words of Professor Derrick Bell, whom he called the Rosa Parks of legal education. In the uncut version played on Sean Hannity's show Wednesday night, Obama gives Bell a hug.

As conservatives describe Bell as a racist whose relationship with Obama was even greater than that with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, it helps to put the video in some context by explain who Derrick Bell, who died Oct. 5,  was and how Obama knew him.

  •  Bell became the first tenured African-American professor of law at Harvard University in the mid-1960s. He came from humble beginnings in Pittsburgh and was a civil rights activist before he became a leading scholar. 
  •  Bell is considered the founder of critical race theory, a method at looking race relations in American history through law and politics. He was a strong believer in the interest of convergence dilemma, or the idea that whites would not support the efforts of blacks to improve their status in society unless it was in their interest.
  •  In 1992 (a year after the Obama video takes place), he told The New York Times he believed black Americans were more subjugated than at any time since slavery.
  •  After Harvard, Bell was one of the first African-Americans to head a non-black school when became the dean of the University of Oregon School of Law in 1980. According to his obituary in The New York Times, he resigned in 1985 over a dispute about faculty diversity.
  •  Bell returned to Harvard after Oregon. When a black visiting professor from the University of Pennsylvania, Regina Austin, was denied tenure, he threatened to leave the school and staged a hunger strike.
  •  A 2007 article from Vibe magazine said Obama played a background role when organizing national protests over faculty diversity with Austin and Bell. He was supportive, and spoke at a few rallies, but he didn't really have time, James Bernard, and organizer in the protest, told the magazine. The image I have is him being on the way to the Law Review building, chain-smoking and joining us for a few minutes before he had to go.

The video, obtained by Breitbart.com and Buzzfeed from WGBH Boston television station's Media Library and Archives, is below.

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