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Ten O'Clock News; Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard


Meg Vaillancourt reports that Derrick Bell (Professor, Harvard Law School) has announced that he will take a voluntary leave of absence from Harvard Law School until an African American female is granted tenure. Vaillancourt notes that Harvard Law School has only five tenured female professors and three tenured African American male professors on staff. She adds that the student body is 25% minority and 40% female. Vaillancourt's report includes footage of Bell speaking at a student demonstration. Bell makes his announcement. Bell adds that it is necessary to make sacrifices to advance one's beliefs. Students applaud Bell. Many students hold protest signs. Three students address the demonstrators. They talk about the lack of minority faculty. Vaillancourt's report also includes footage of Louis Kaplow (Associate Dean, Harvard Law School) speaking at a press conference. Kaplow defends the school's record of minority hiring. Vaillancourt notes that Bell does not know if his act of conscience will have any effect on the school administration. Vaillancourt's report includes footage from May 1988, of Harvard Law School students occupying the dean's office to protest the lack of minority faculty. Following the edited story is additional footage of the demonstration, including law student Barack Obama introducing Derrick Bell.

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Ten O'Clock News

Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard

Series Description

NIGHTLY NEWS WITH CHRISTOPHER LYDON AND CARMEN FIELDS Began January 1976. Replaced evening news show EVENING COMPASS. Original host: Steve Nevas. Other anchors, Christopher Lydon (1977-91) and Gail Harris (1983). In 1980 - hour long. Ended in 1991.

(PREDECESSORS: Louis Lyons began news operations at WGBH in 1952. The News at 10 began in 1966. The Reporters premiered in 1970. The Evening Compass started in 1974.) Series release date: 1/1976



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Obama, Barack
Student protesters
Universities and colleges
Bell, Derrick A.
Harvard University
Speeches, addresses, etc.
Affirmative action programs
Cambridge (Mass.)
News Report
Obama, Barack (Speaker)
Vaillancourt, Meg (Reporter)
Bell, Derrick A. (Speaker)
Chicago: “Ten O'Clock News; Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard,” 04/24/1990, GBH Archives, accessed April 19, 2024,
MLA: “Ten O'Clock News; Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard.” 04/24/1990. GBH Archives. Web. April 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Ten O'Clock News; Derrick Bell threatens to leave Harvard. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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