Dr. Janet Dewart Bell is a social justice activist, strategist and author with a doctorate in leadership and change. An adjunct associate professor at Baruch College, she has been a senior executive at a number of national organizations including The Opportunity Agenda, PolicyLink, National Urban League, National Committee on Household Employment, District Council 37 of AFSCME, and NPR.
Dr. Bell currently serves as Chair of the Women’s Media Center Board of Directors, and among her accomplishments are an Emmy® for outstanding individual achievement and programming for National Public Radio honored with a Peabody Award. She is also host of the LEADing Justice Podcast.
Dr. Bell is the widow of Derrick Bell, the first African American tenured professor at Harvard Law School. To celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday, she founded the Derrick Bell Lecture Series on Race in American Society at the New York University School of Law, now in its twenty-seventh year.
Her first book, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement, tells the story of the essential role of women’s leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. She also is co-editor of the recently released Race, Rights, and Redemption: The Derrick Bell Lectures on the Law and Critical Race Theory, which features lectures by pre-eminent legal scholars delivered at the Bell Lecture Series. Her forthcoming work, Blackbirds Singing: Inspiring Black Women’s Speeches from the Civil War to the Twenty-first Century, celebrates the tradition of Black women’s political speech and labor. With an expansive historical lens, Blackbirds Singing allows the voices and powerful visions of African American women speak across generations building power for the world.