Derrick Bell, CRT, and educational leadership 1995-present

Muhammad Khalifa, Christopher Dunbar, Ty Ron Douglasb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Critical Race Theory (CRT) has become a centered conceptual framework to understand American education and reform (Ladson-Billings and Tate 1995; Solorzano and Yosso; 2001; Decuir and Dixon 2004). Indeed, educational leadership scholars have not been far behind in recognizing the explicative and powerful role of CRT studies in their work (Lopez 2003; Parker and Villalpando 2007). As we acknowledge the role of CRT, we cannot do so without reflecting on the life and works of the quintessential Critical Legal Studies (CLS) scholar Derrick Bell (1930-2011). In this article, we use Bell's collective works to analyze current trends and research in educational leadership. We bring his works into conversation not only with conceptions of instructional and distributed leadership, but with the palpability that CRT has on the current state of educational reform. More specifically, we use Bell's theories of interest convergence and conversations around 'racial remedies' to understand two recent trends in educational leadership: discourses of social justice leadership and the move toward data-driven leadership behaviors. We ask questions like: what has been the impact of research discourses social justice on the education of African American and Latino urban youth? And, how has the current social structures benefited from such discourses? We conclude with recommendations for educational leadership researchers and professors, and encourage them to consider race as an integral part of their works.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-513
Number of pages25
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical Race Theory
  • Derrick Bell
  • community-based leadership
  • educational leadership
  • neoliberalism


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