And We Are Not Saved

The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice


By Derrick Bell

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The author of Faces at the Bottom of the Well and “the man behind critical race theory” (New Yorker) offers an imaginative investigation of American race relations and the difficult struggle for racial justice. 
In And We Are Not Saved, legal scholar and civil rights activist Derrick Bell calls for a deeper understanding of how white supremacy functions in the United States. Bell challenges the idea that significant social, political, and economic progress was achieved by the civil rights movement in the wake of the 1954 Brown v. Board decision. Through a series of fables and dramatic dialogues modeled on the grim fairytales of the eighteenth century, Bell explains the true pervasiveness of racial oppression within the American legal system. Racial inequality, he argues, is an integral part of American law and society, and it cannot be easily reversed through legislation. 
Hailed as “fascinating” (New York Times Book Review) and “daring” (Washington Post), this is a landmark work in the study of race in America. 
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  • "Fascinating and provocative.... Mr. Bell has chosen to engage the often harsh realities of the black struggle for justice in America through the use of a storytelling technique filled with imagination, fantasy and unabashed spirituality."
    Vincent Harding, New York Times Book Review
  • "A brilliant analysis of the problem of race in the United States today." 
    John Hope Franklin, Duke University
  • "A book of compelling originality, power, even enchantment." 
    Alice Walker
  • "Bell's daring technique allows us to look at race relations from a new perspective."
    Juan Williams, Washington Post Book World
  • “Bell’s perspective retains its relevance. Even after his death, it has been far easier to disagree with him than to prove him wrong.”
    Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker
  • "Derrick Bell, who is often described as the founder or godfather of critical race theory…. has been an important influence on some of today’s most influential writers on race, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander…. For his supporters and critics alike, Derrick Bell remains a central figure.... His stark vision of the racial divide in American society and history has retained its power to provoke debate and activism across the political spectrum."
    Wall Street Journal
  • "Will in all probability be the decade's most important book about civil rights." 
    Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School
  • "A powerful book that challenges us to understand the unfinished agenda for social justice of the civil rights movement."
    Michael E. Tigar, American Bar Association Journal
  • "This is a remarkable book in the still intractable field of race relations.... A stimulating mine of ideas, well worthy of the careful consideration of all thoughtful Americans."
    Erwin N. Griswold, former Solicitor General of the United States

On Sale
Mar 31, 1989
Page Count
304 pages
Basic Books

Derrick Bell

About the Author

Derrick Bell (1930-2011) was a civil rights attorney, pioneering legal scholar, professor, and political activist. A full-time visiting professor at New York University Law School for over two decades, he was previously the first tenured African American professor on the faculty of Harvard Law School and the first African American dean of the University of Oregon School of Law. He is also the author of And We Are Not Saved and several other books.

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