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Not the Whitey Tape

Back in 1990, students and faculty at Harvard Law School protested and “went on strike” over the denial of tenure to an African American female professor, and the treatment of professor Derrick Bell, and the lack of faculty diversity at the school.  The editor of the Harvard Law Review at the time was Barack Obama, and he spoke at a rally on Bell’s behalf.  Frontline aired the footage in 2008, and Buzzfeed re-posted it yesterday as newly discovered. Typically, the domestic right-wing media claims that everyone involved – Buzzfeed, WGBH, Frontline, Obama, the Bilderbergs, the European Central Bank, Mossad, and the Tooth Fairy – have edited the tape to omit the part where Obama praises Stalin, dons a swastika, and publicly announces the murder of dead agent provocateur Andrew Breitbart. 

What it actually shows is a smart young guy who is already making his bones as a leader of people while still in school.  Pretty impressive stuff, and Obama’s role in that long-forgotten controversy was quite conciliatory – not at all confrontational or radical, as his haters would have you believe. 

Watch Obama Speaks at Harvard Law in ’90 on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Also, because it’s going to bear repeating, Obama’s speech in support of Bell’s fight against his own employer’s administration on behalf of faculty diversity does not mean that Obama somehow assumes responsibility for every view, theory, and opinion that Bell espoused or promoted as an academic.