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The. Harvard Law School has 15 Supreme Court justices among its alumni. According to one Cambridge Professor getting tenure here is the academic equivalent to being named pope. Now one of the school's popes has announced he's leaving. I won't view removing myself from the payroll as a sacrificial financial fast. It is not intended to coerce my colleagues but rather to honor my commitment to those responsible for my being here. Professor Derrick Bell was the first black granted tenure at Harvard Law School back in 1969. Now he's taking a leave of absence until the school 10 years its first black woman professor. My course is a schedule. Students have registered for them and to be candid. I cannot afford a year more without my law school.
But I cannot continue to urge students to take risks for what they believe. If I do not practice my own precepts some 500 students are packing up bell and they called on alumni to hit the school where it hurts by boycotting Harvard's current multi-million dollar fundraising drive. Dean Clark has this new campaign fund to build a new library to make this a better place. If he really wants to make this a better place he'll have more diverse professors. I think that the press about I set example for all of us but I've been here for three years. I have no role model there's not one Latina professor here there's not one Latino professor here. And for me that's important. You see that we are indeed in the midst of a movement and movements take sacrifice. Giving up is more than a hundred thousand dollar a year salary Bell has put Harvard on the spot for the past year students have staged sit ins at the dean's office over the issue of minority
hiring an issue that's been festering in this ivory tower for nearly 20 years. There are sixteen hundred students here at Harvard Law School. Nearly a quarter are people of color and nearly 40 percent are women. Yet Harvard Law School's faculty contains only five tenured women professors and only three professors all of them are male. We in fact only hire a couple of people a year and some years we hire nine. And the reason has to do with the fact that even though we are a fairly large place our positions are often permanent positions that may last 40 years given the nature of tenure in a university. As a result when we're going to hire someone for essentially a lifetime these decisions are made carefully cautiously and gradually those Kapleau is associate dean for Harvard Law School at a press conference following Bell's announcement. He suggested that Harvard is unlikely to make major changes in its tenure track process is it. In the last eight or 10 years our hiring has been almost 50 percent and offers have been fully 50 percent minorities and women. That shows very substantial effort if one
identifies any particular can category categories that we value very highly. There may be cases where we do not hire people even though we're searching hard. There are many areas in business law and international law some where we have fully funded chairs that have been empty for 20 years where we've been attempting to hire people. Today Bell doesn't know whether his act of conscience will improve the school's minority hiring record. But with his departure Harvard Law School will have only two black tenured professors. I must hope that student persistence will again prevail both for those persons of color in other representatives of our student diversity who deserve to be here and for one aging but still eager African-American who very much wants to remain. Thank you very much. It was 10 o'clock news. I met down court. The.
Hearing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah yeah. Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah
yeah. Yeah he has it. My head. OK. And I think I was Thank you AA and. Aaa.
Great. And I remember that the black law students would organize an orientation for the first year students. And when the persons who spoke at that orientation was Professor Bell and I remember him sauntering up to the front and not giving us a lecture but engaging us in a conversation. And speaking the truth and telling us that he is ready to learn of this place that I've carried with me ever since. Now how did this one man do all this. How has he accomplished all this. He hasn't done it. Simply by his good works and easy charm. Although you have both an ample measure.
He hasn't done it simply because of the excellence of his scholarship. Although his goal or ship has opened up new vistas new horizons and changes and a little. Bit harder to. Open up your hearts and your minds to the words. That's a Derrick Bell. Ah. I would also like to announce it is going to be a meeting of all interested students. I call
this meeting tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at around 1 0 7 and also I did not I suppose. It may be significant that this is due to dance here and there for a minute dressed without notes. Wow that is your little. One. There is only one correction. I appreciate your heart I appreciate Brock's kind words but it was not me that made all of this possible. Ah I want you to understand that while I have been here for two decades I have not forgotten that my appointment represented the combination of years of student struggle. I remember as well that for the first 150 years of its history
the faculty at Harvard Law the oldest existing most prestigious and in the view of many the best law school in the United States was all white and all male. That is a horrible history not remediate by plaintiff. Please of me a couple combined with the token appointment of members of the victim class who are least likely to remind the school of its past racist hard record was. Need political and cultural factors of those society places in subordinate status based on their race gender sexual orientation and physical handicap.
Unfortunately those minorities most likely to have these skills are often not attractive to those who believe that a law faculty hard using the standards of the 1950s should serve the needs of the nineteen nine. My family are one hundred seven African-American women at this law school. Ah. Actions. I would also like to announce it is going to be immediate.
Ten O'Clock News
Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Series Description
Ten O'Clock News was a nightly news show, featuring reports, news stories, and interviews on current events in Boston and the world.
Raw Footage Description
Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard Law until school grants tenure to a female black professor. Students march, chant, cheer and raise arms in solidarity.Law student Barack Obama is visible among the crowd of supporters in the edited story, and he introduces Derrick Bell in the added b-roll.Length: 3.52 story plus b-roll follows. reporter: VaillancourtMeg Vaillancourt reports that Derrick Bell (Professor, Harvard Law School) has announced that he will take a voluntary leave of absence from Harvard Law School until an African American female is granted tenure. Vaillancourt notes that Harvard Law School has only five tenured female professors and three tenured African American male professors on staff. She adds that the student body is 25% minority and 40% female. Vaillancourt's report includes footage of Bell speaking at a student demonstration. Bell makes his announcement. Bell adds that it is necessary to make sacrifices to advance one's beliefs. Students applaud Bell. Many students hold protest signs. Three students address the demonstrators. They talk about the lack of minority faculty. Vaillancourt's report also includes footage of Louis Kaplow (Associate Dean, Harvard Law School) speaking at a press conference. Kaplow defends the school's record of minority hiring. Vaillancourt notes that Bell does not know if his act of conscience will have any effect on the school administration. Vaillancourt's report includes footage from May 1988, of Harvard Law School students occupying the dean's office to protest the lack of minority faculty. This tape includes additional footage of the student demonstration at Harvard Law School
Segment Description
Packaged news story with reporter Meg Vaillancourt. In 1990, Harvard Law School had 65 tenured and tenure-track professors. Fifty-five were white men; none were women of color. To protest alongside student activists against this lack of diversity, Professor Derrick Bell threatened to permanently leave Harvard unless the law school hired a black female professor for a tenure-track position. In this news story, Derrick Bell announces his decision to take an unpaid leave until this goal is reached. Students march, chant, cheer and raise arms in solidarity. Law student Barack Obama is visible among the crowd of supporters in the edited story, and he introduces Derrick Bell in the added b-roll. The unedited B-roll includes Barack Obama's speech and the crowd's reaction. Ultimately, Bell lost his tenure when he did not return in 1992. Harvard Law hired its first woman of color for a tenure-track position in 1998.
Asset type
Social Issues
Bell, Derrick A.; Affirmative action programs; Universities and colleges; Speeches, addresses, etc.; Discrimination; Student protesters; Harvard University; Obama, Barack
Rights Note:,Rights:,Rights Credit:WGBH Educational Foundation,Rights Type:All,Rights Coverage:,Rights Holder:WGBH Educational Foundation
Media type
Moving Image
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Distributor: WGBH Educational Foundation
Wardrobe: Vaillancourt, Meg
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Identifier: 64441414378772a2ff02610fef0159a5264ac340 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: Quicktime
Color: Color
Duration: 00:07:12
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Chicago: “Ten O'Clock News; Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard,” 1990-04-24, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 26, 2024,
MLA: “Ten O'Clock News; Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard.” 1990-04-24. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Ten O'Clock News; Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from