cover image of Faces at the Bottom of the Well

Faces at the Bottom of the Well

The Permanence of Racism

by Derrick Bell Author · Michelle Alexander Author of introduction, etc.


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The classic work on American racism and the struggle for racial justice, now with a new foreword by Michelle AlexanderIn Faces at the Bottom of the Well, civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell uses allegory and historical example to argue that racism is an integral and permanent part of American society. African American struggles for equality are doomed to fail so long as the majority of whites do not see their own well-being threatened by the status quo. Bell calls on African Americans to face up to this unhappy truth and abandon a misplaced faith in inevitable progress. Only then will blacks, and those whites who join with them, be in a position to create viable strategies to alleviate the burdens of racism. "Freed of the stifling rigidity of relying unthinkingly on the slogan 'we shall overcome,'" he writes, "we are impelled both to live each day more fully and to examine critically the actual effectiveness of traditional civil rights remedies."With a new foreword by Michelle Alexander, Faces at the Bottom of the Well is urgent and essential reading on the problem of racism in America.

Publication Details

Hachette Book Group
Basic Books
Publication Date:


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Michelle Alexander (Author of introduction, etc.)

Michelle Alexander is the acclaimed author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary.

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Derrick Bell (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 A...

More about Derrick Bell
Faces at the Bottom of the Well
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