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Derrick BellDerrick Bell to Speak at the University of Virginia's Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration

January 7, 2000 -- Derrick Bell, visiting professor at the New York University Law School and author of "Faces at the Bottom of the Well," will be the keynote speaker Jan. 22 at the Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration at the University of Virginia. The free public event will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall.

"Looking to the Future through the Eyes of the Dreamer" is the theme of this year's community-wide celebration. Sponsored by the Office of African-American Affairs, the evening program will include poetry and drama as well as a book signing in Cabell Hall immediately following Bell's talk. Copies of Bell's books can be purchased at the University of Virginia Bookstore.

A civil rights activist for nearly 40 years, Bell is a well-known essayist, author and legal scholar. His textbook, "Race, Racism, and American Law," first published in 1971, is used in civil rights courses across the country. One of his most popular books, "Faces at the Bottom of the Well," consists of allegorical stories on racial issues. Other books include "And We Are Not Saved" and "Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protester."

A native of Pittsburgh, Bell received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh Law School. His early career included stints as a Justice Department lawyer, a staff attorney of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a deputy director for civil rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, and director of the Western Center on Law and Poverty in Los Angeles.

In 1969, he became the first black professor at the Harvard Law School and became its first black tenured faculty member in 1971.

In 1989, he resigned to become the dean at the University of Oregon Law School because Harvard Law School at the time failed to appoint black women to its faculty. He later resigned the Oregon Law School position in protest over the school's failure to appoint an Asian-American faculty candidate.

Since 1991, Bell has been a visiting professor at the New York University Law School. He teaches and lectures around the country and is a frequent guest on radio and television programs.

For more information, call Cornelius L. Bynum, interim director of the Luther P. Jackson Cultural Center, at (804) 924-7923.

Contact: Katherine Jackson, (804) 924-3629

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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