A new video of then-student Barack Obama in 1991 is revealing another corner of the president’s murky past.
The video shows Obama, when he was a Harvard law student, speaking at a student demonstration intended to boost Derrick Bell, a Harvard professor and an advocate of racial hiring.
At the time, Bell was demanding that the university hire African-Americans instead of Asians, Latinos or whites.
Critics said Bell wanted to lower recruitment standards to increase the number of African-Americans on the staff.
Bell claimed the hiring would increase the variety of experience among Harvard professors.
“Let’s look at a few qualifications — say civil rights experience … that might allow more folks here who, like me, maybe didn’t go to the best law school but instead have made a real difference in the world,” he said in a Boston Globe interview.
Bell’s pitch was part of the movement to increase “diversity” in universities, and to reduce traditional teaching of classical authors, nearly all of whom were white men.
“Bell’s scholarship was very controversial and Obama’s wholehearted endorsement of it is eyebrow-raising,” said Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Part of Bell’s pitch, Clegg said, is that “America is an irredeemably racist country.”
Bell was “speaking the truth,” Obama said.
“How did this one man do all this? … He hasn’t done it simply by his good looks and easy charm. … He hasn’t done it by simply because of the excellence of his scholarship, although his scholarship has opened up new vistas and horizons, and changed the standard of what legal writing is about.”
The full video is being released at Breitbart.com on March 7.
A short version was released early March 7 by BuzzFeed.com. “We spent weeks tracking down, paid a large sum to WGBH so we could use every second of him talking,” said BuzzFeed’s editor, Ben Smith.