Derrick Bell, law professor and rights advocate, dies at 80

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NEW YORK (AP) — A civil rights scholar who became the first tenured black professor at Harvard Law School has died. Derrick Bell was 80.

Bell’s wife, Janet Dewart Bell, says he died Wednesday night of carcinoid cancer at a New York City hospital. He’d taught at New York University’s law school since 1990.

Bell was long dissatisfied with the progress of race relations in America. He urged that laws, including civil rights laws, be examined for racism embedded within them.

In 1971, he became Harvard Law’s first tenured African-American professor. He later spent five years as dean of the law school at the University of Oregon.

After returning to Harvard, Bell took a leave of absence in 1990 to protest the absence of black women on its law school faculty. He never returned.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.