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24 Conn. L. Rev. 363 (1991-1992)
Racial Realism

handle is hein.journals/conlr24 and id is 383 raw text is: CONNECTICUT
LAW REVIEW

VOLUME 24              WINTER 1992              NUMBER 2

RACIAL REALISM
Derrick Bell*
T HE struggle by black people to obtain freedom, justice, and dig-
nity is as old as this nation. At times, great and inspiring leaders
rose out of desperate situations to give confidence and feelings of em-
powerment to the black community. Most of these leaders urged their
people to strive for racial equality. They were firmly wedded to the idea
that the courts and judiciary were the vehicle to better the social posi-
tion of blacks. In spite of dramatic civil rights movements and periodic
victories in the legislatures, black Americans by no means are equal to
whites. Racial equality is, in fact, not a realistic goal. By constantly
aiming for a status that is unobtainable in a perilously racist America,
black Americans face frustration and despair. Over time, our persistent
quest for integration has hardened into self-defeating rigidity.
Black people need reform of our civil rights strategies as badly as
those in the law needed a new way to consider American jurisprudence
* Weld Professor of Law, Harvard University Law School. Visiting Professor, New York Uni-
versity Law School, 1991-92 school year. This is the text of a speech delivered at the University of
Connecticut School of Law, on September 20, 1991, as part of the Day, Berry & Howard Visiting
Scholar Program.

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