Obama Protesting At Harvard In 1990
Barack Obama is seen here speaking in support of Harvard Professor Derrick Bell at a 1990 protest for more diversity on the law school's faculty.
Bell was the first black tenured professor at the school, and a pioneer of "critical race theory," which insisted, controversially, on reading issues of race and power into legal scholarship. His protest that spring was occasioned by Harvard's denial of tenure to a black woman professor, Regina Austin, at a time when only three of the law school's professors were black and only five women. He told Harvard he would take a leave of absence â€” a kind of academic strike â€” "until a woman of color is offered and accepted a tenured position on this faculty," and he launched a hunger strike to dramatize his point.