Carving Out a Humanity

Race, Rights, and Redemption

Leading law professors weigh in on key issues in race and the law—collected in honor of one of the originators of critical race theory, Derrick Bell

“Penetrating essays on race and social stratification within policing and the law, in honor of pioneering scholar Derrick Bell.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

When Derrick Bell, one of the originators of critical race theory, turned sixty-five, his wife set up a lecture series of the leading critical race theorists, many of them Bell’s former students. Now, these lectures, given over the course of twenty-five years, are collected for the first time in Carving Out a Humanity, a volume that Library Journal calls “potent” and Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, says “powerfully acknowledge[s] the persistence of structural racism.”

“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. Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, describes the hypersegregation of our cities and the limits of the law’s ability to change deep-seated attitudes about race. Patricia J. 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.

Carving Out a Humanity gathers some of our country’s brightest progressive legal stars in a volume that illuminates facets of the law that have continued to perpetuate racial inequality and to confound our nation at the start of a new millennium. According to Library Journal, “Scholars and lay readers alike will be enlightened and spurred to thought and discussion.”


“This potent work draws conclusions about systemic injustice and race. . . . Scholars and lay readers alike will be enlightened and spurred to thought and discussion.”
Library Journal

Books by these authors

Race, Rights, and Redemption
The Derrick Bell Lectures on the Law and Critical Race Theory

Janet Dewart Bell, Vincent M. Southerland

Goodreads Reviews