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date: 18 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In 1976, Derrick Bell, a former lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, wrote about the inability of modern civil rights litigation to advance real racial justice. His willingness to dissent from civil rights orthodoxy would radically reshape the study of race, law, and history. The result would lead to the creation of critical race theory. This chapter begins by examining the role of historical analysis in the development of critical race theory. It then explores how legal historians of the civil rights movement imported insights from critical race theory to develop three decades of movement scholarship. Next, it charts new scholarly directions for both critical race theorists and legal historians. The chapter concludes with reflections on how legal history and critical race theory have influenced contemporary struggles for racial justice.

Keywords: legal history, critical race theory, historical analysis, racial justice, legal historians, civil rights movement, civil rights litigation

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