Dear Derrick A. Bell Jr. by Imani Kirlew

Dear Derrick A. Bell Jr,

My name is Imani Kirlew and I am 14 years old.  I go to Memorial Junior High and I’m in the 9th grade. Every Saturday for the past 5 years I have been going to a program called Reach for Success. This program teaches students the importance of believing in yourself, being responsible, being kind and valuing others and using your school and life knowledge for everyday purposes. This program teaches us this by using the four principles I matter, I am responsible for my behavior, I am considerate of my classmates and others and I use thinking strategies for school and life success. This program has been helping me build my confidence and courage for many years and I really enjoy it.

Mr. Bell Jr, I have chosen to write about you for many reasons.  You have accomplished many things in life such as being a counsel in the NAACP as well as serving as the executive director of the Western Center of Law and Poverty at the University of Southern California Law School. You have accomplished many other things in your early life. The main reason I chose to write about you was because you were involved in law and trying to make people realize that there should be more equality. I’ve been dreaming about having a career concerning law. Such as being a police officer, a FBI or a lawyer. Law has always fascinated me and since your life was full of law and order and showing people what is right I have chosen to write about your life.

You were born on November 6, 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You were born to Derrick Sr. who ran a trash removal company and to Ada Bell. You graduated from Schenley High School and received a scholarship to Lincoln University, but couldn’t attend because of the lack of financial aid. Instead, you attended and graduated Duquesne University and earned an A.B in 1952. After you graduated, you had to fight in Korea as the U.S Air force.  When you returned from Korea you had a goal. You wanted to become a civil rights lawyer. You went to the University of Pittsburgh and Law and received a L.L.B. You were a very good lawyer because you worked very hard on school desegregation cases and civil rights issues.  The job was so dangerous; you sometimes needed a guard to keep you safe from getting shot.

You had many job opportunities. Before attending Harvard, you were a deputy director of Civil Rights in the department of Health, Education and Welfare.  You were also an executive director of the Western Center of Law and Poverty at the University of Southern California Law School. Even though you studied law and did many jobs as a lawyer and director, you also wrote several books. Your books were sometimes made into movies. Some of your books now are used as textbooks for students at school.  A couple of years later your wife, Jewel Hairston Bell died from breast cancer. Many awards were given to you as a memorial for your wife.

Like I said earlier, I go to a program called Reach for Success. I learned four principles, I Matter, I am responsible for my behavior, I am considerate for my classmates and other and I use thinking strategies for school and life success, that have helped me become more confident and courageous. I believe that you used some of those principles in your life. I think you used the R.I.C.H principle I matter. You fought in what you believed in and even found a career to match your beliefs. Even though you needed a guard to protect for all of the hurtful crimes that people were doing to you, you still stood strong and continued your dreams. Knowing that you mattered made you a stronger person and made a confident person. I believed that the principle I matter really helped you in life.

Derrick A Bell Jr. you really inspired me that is why I decided to write about you. You fought for what’s right and you never gave up no matter what. You were a great lawyer and you accomplished many things in life. One day I’ll follow your step in getting an occupation in law.

Sincerely,

Imani Kirlew

4/16/16