DR. JANET DEWART BELL
Vital essays by America’s preeminent civil rights attorneys and thinkers, weighing in on some of the most consequential issues in race and the law—collected in honor of critical race theory founder Derrick Bell.
“Beyond the ebb and flow of racial progress lies the still viable and widely accepted (though seldom expressed) belief that America is a white country in which blacks, particularly as a group, are not entitled to the concern, resources, or even empathy that would be extended to similarly situated whites.” —Derrick Bell
Carving Out a Humanity gathers some of our country’s brightest progressive legal stars in a volume of essays that illuminates the facets of the law that have continued to perpetuate racial inequality and to confound our nation at the start of a new millennium.
“To what extent does equal protection protect?” asks Ian Haney López in a penetrating analysis of the gaps that remain in our civil rights legal codes. President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill describes the hypersegregation of our cities and the limits of the law’s ability to change deep-seated attitudes about race. Patricia Williams explores the legacy of slavery in the law’s current constructions of sanity. Anita Allen discusses competing privacy and accountability interests in the lives of African American celebrities. Chuck Lawrence interrogates the judicial backlash against affirmative action. And Michelle Alexander describes what caused her to break ranks with the civil rights community and take up the cause of those our legal system has labeled unworthy.
Originally delivered as Derrick Bell Lectures in a series at NYU School of Law, begun in 1995 and running up through 2019, Carving Out a Humanity offers an unprecedented array of today’s most creative and brilliant thinking on race and the law.
“Penetrating essays on race and social stratification within policing and the law, in honor of pioneering scholar Derrick Bell. . . . Many powerfully acknowledge the persistence of structural racism and offer in-depth discussion regarding particular aspects of the law’s effect on marginalized communities, resonant in an era of White supremacy’s bid for mainstream acceptance.”
“This potent work draws conclusions about systemic injustice and race. . . . Scholars and lay readers alike will be enlightened and spurred to thought and discussion.”
A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that brilliantly plumb the leadership of African American women in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights—many nearly lost to history—from the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize.
During the Civil Rights Movement, African American women were generally not in the headlines; they simply did the work that needed to be done. Yet despite their significant contributions at all levels of the movement, they remain mostly invisible to the larger public. Beyond Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Dorothy Height, most Americans, black and white alike, would be hard-pressed to name other leaders at the community, local, and national levels.
In Lighting the Fires of Freedom Janet Dewart Bell shines a light on women’s all-too-often overlooked achievements in the Movement. Through wide-ranging conversations with nine women, several now in their nineties with decades of untold stories, we hear what ignited and fueled their activism, as Bell vividly captures their inspiring voices. Lighting the Fires of Freedom offers these deeply personal and intimate accounts of extraordinary struggles for justice that resulted in profound social change, stories that remain important and relevant today.
Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Lighting the Fires of Freedom is a vital document for understanding the Civil Rights Movement and an enduring testament to the vitality of women’s leadership during one of the most dramatic periods of American history.