Since last week’s release of an old video of Barack Obama giving a glowing introduction of Harvard professor Derrick Bell at a 1991 rally and embracing the man known for developing Critical Race Theory, Bell has been the subject of debate on the left and right via the media. Bell, who died last October, is lionized by his followers as being a leader in the study of racial dynamics, while his detractors see him as the father of an anti-White school of thought. His correspondence with racist preacher Jeremiah Wright didn’t help this.
The media firestorm resulted in an exclusive interview with Derrick Bell’s widow, Janet Dewart Bell, on MSNBC’s The Ed Show who called out “the radical right wing media” for its “lies” and “distortions” of her husband’s work.
Besides being the first tenured African American professor at Harvard, Bell also had the honor of being labeled an “honorary woman” by Gloria Steinem.
Janet Dewart Bell said nothing in the interview about Critical Race Theory. Also, it’s unclear why, given that she says her husband was very non-controversial, Bell’s friend and Obama’s former campaign adviser Charles Ogletree admitted to hiding the video in question during the 2008 election campaign.
Dewart Bell commented on the relationship between Derrick Bell and Barack Obama into Obama’s presidency by asserting that “[Bell] never had contact with the president as president.” Although, the Heritage Foundation uncovered two visits by a “Derrick A. Bell” to the White House in 2010, though the White House insists it is a different man.
A search through the Open Secrets database showed no political contributions by Derrick Bell since 1990, but his wife, Janet Dewart Bell has made several donations to Democratic candidates since the 2008 campaign, most frequently Barack Obama. Between April and October of 2008, Dewart Bell made five political contributions, four of them going to candidate Obama, the other going to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. One of these was a $1000 contribution. She also donated to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in May of 2011.
Given the cover-up of Bell’s and Obama’s relationship through the 2008 election, it would make sense that contributions to the Obama campaign would go through Janet Dewart Bell and not Derrick himself.