April 9, 2020 - University of Houston Law Center Professor Emeritus Michael A. Olivas was recently selected as the winner of the Derrick Bell Legacy Award. He will be presented with the accolade at an upcoming conference at the University of Delaware, where he will participate in a panel dialogue with other awardees.
The award is presented by the Critical Race Studies in Education Association.
“Like so many other legal scholars, I was a friend and mentee of Derrick Bell, and appeared on several panels and platforms with him over the years," Olivas said. "Before I begin any writing on civil rights subjects, I always re-read several of his works, to be sure I get it right. This Award reminds me of how much in his intellectual debt I have remained, all these years.”
According to the organization, the Derrick Bell Legacy Award honors critical race theorists, critical race studies scholars, and progressive educators-activists committed to advancing social justice and educational race equity through their teaching, research, writing, and direct community action.
"Positive actions that illuminate our insight into racial injustice and the human condition require courage and commitment and are worthy of respect and acknowledgement," said the CRSEA in a statement. "This award recognizes individuals whose career accomplishments demonstrate personal courage and professional commitment to supporting and advocating for the “faces at the bottom of the well.”
Olivas, the former William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law and director of the Institute for Higher Education Law & Governance at the Law Center, joined the faculty in 1982. He is renowned as a scholar in the fields of higher education and immigration law, and has worked on legislation in the interest of social justice when the two intersect. Olivas' most recent book, "Perchance to Dream: A Legal and Political History of the DREAM Act and DACA" will be released on June 30, 2020.
A prolific writer, he has written, edited or contributed chapters to 37 books. He also has served as a legal consultant and expert witness more than 20 times, has provided legislative testimony on the state and federal level more than 10 times, and has submitted amicus briefs on 23 cases in state and federal courts. From February 2016 until May 2017, Olivas served as the President of the University of Houston-Downtown on an interim basis.
He also has a regular radio show on the Albuquerque, NM, National Public Radio station KANW, "The Law of Rock and Roll," where he reviews legal developments in music and entertainment law, appearing as "The Rock and Roll Law Professor." (TM) The show is syndicated on radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. He lectures on entertainment law subjects to lawyers, entertainers, and trade groups.