The New Yorker



As a longtime friend and colleague of Derrick Bell’s—Thurgood Marshall had us share a closet-size office while working at the Legal Defense Fund in the nineteen-sixties—I was moved by Jelani Cobb’s vivid portrait of Bell (“The Limits of Liberalism,”September 20th). Derrick never lost his ironic sense of humor or his willingnes­s to mix personal commitment with a tolerance for disagreeme­nt. Though Derrick’s pessimism was perhaps bolstered by the judicial regression­s that followed the few years of progress after Brown v. Board of Education, he once acknowledg­ed to me that the Supreme Court had opened the door to a world of changes for Black people—just far too few to vanquish white supremacy.

Michael Meltsner Professor of Law Northeaste­rn University Cambridge, Mass.

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