TPM Reader MT can’t hold back …

The “controversy” around President Obama’s 1990 speech at Harvard on the occasion of the late Professor Bell’s decision to take a leave of absence to protest Harvard’s hiring practices is shameful in what it implies (full disclosure — Professor Bell taught me Constitutional Law at NYU during his self-imposed exile from Harvard).

The implication is that Professor Bell was some kind of violent radical racist. Professor Bell was a HERO who dedicated his life to desegregating the United States. From his job as the only black lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the 1950’s, to his work alongside Thurgood Marshall bringing hundreds of desegregation actions in Mississippi, right up to his leaving Harvard, Professor Bell lived what he preached. That his life’s work was radical or provocative says more about how far we have left to go. If its radical to be appalled that Harvard Law School had no women law professors and only five black male law professors among hundreds of professors, then the world could use a lot more radicals. And to tarnish his reputation as simply anti-white is false and totally and intentionally missing the point. I hope to see President Obama speak about Professor Bell, in prime time, on all networks, if for no other reason than this was an American hero that more people should know about and take inspiration from.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.