October 6, 2011, 6:05 pm
In 1996, I had my first peer-reviewed presentation accepted to a major conference. I was only a few years into my doctoral program and I was nervous about my research interests. During the conference, I attended a luncheon. The keynote speaker was Derrick Bell. I knew nothing about him. I had not read any of his work. In fact, I was seated right next to him and had no concept of the power that he had in his voice and writings. What I do remember is that he was kind and engaging. Knowing that I was nervous, he listened, and probed to find out my interests. It wasn’t until he got up to serve as the luncheon keynote speaker that I had any idea with whom I had just been talking. Listening to Bell, I was inspired, motivated, and pushed to consider issues that I may have previously ignored.
After meeting Bell, I devoured all of his books and have continued to do so over the…