Critical Race Theory as a movement is best understood through the lens of founding voice Richard Delgado. Delgado’s prolific and fearless writings have inspired thousands and launched theories that have literally changed the course of race law in the United States. In fact, two explosive movements were born in the United States in the 1970s. While the founding of both movements was humble and lightly noticed, both grew to become global phenomena that have profoundly changed the world. Founded by prescient agitators, these two movements were borne of disaffect, disappointment, and near desperation — a desperate need to give voice to oppressed and dispossessed peoples. America in the 1970s bore witness to the founding of two furious movements: Critical Race Theory and hip-hop.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) was founded as a response to what had been deemed a sputtering civil rights agenda in the U.S. Driven primarily by law professors of color, it targeted the law by exposing the racial inequities supported by U.S. law and policy. Hip-hop, on the other hand, was founded by emerging artists, musicians, and agitators in the South Bronx neighborhoods of New York City, primarily driven by young African American disaffected youth, as a response to a faltering music industry and abject poverty. While these two movements, Critical Race Theory and hip-hop, seem significantly separated by presentation, content, and point of origin, they share startling similarities. Among the many similarities between Critical Race Theory and hip-hop, the closest link is the use of narrative in response to racism and injustice in a post-civil rights era. Further, Critical Race Theory and hip-hop share a fundamental desire to give voice to a discontent brewed by silence, and a dedication to the continuing struggle for race equality in the United States. Both Critical Race Theory and hip-hop strive toward their mutual goals of radical realignment and societal recognition and change of race and law in America.
One of the most important voices in the nascent days of the CRT movement was founding voice Richard Delgado, who along with Derrick Bell, introduced the world to CRT. Delgado published the explosive articles "The Imperial Scholar" and "A Plea for Narrative." Delgado’s early CRT publications represented an effort to educate and enlighten the civil-rights generation, emerging scholars of color, and the rest of the legal world to the inequities and discrimination inherent in a legal system that systematically disadvantages minority citizens in the U.S. Delgado’s voice was so important during the founding of CRT that he is revered today as a true pioneer in race jurisprudence in the United States.
Similarly, no early hip-hop voice seized the attention of both fans and critics alike the way that Ice Cube and N.W.A. did when “Straight Outta Compton” shocked the nation at its release. When Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, and DJ Yella (as N.W.A.) released "Straight Outta Compton," the album dropped profoundly on the consciences of inner-city youth, the nation, and eventually, the globe. Never before had such an intensely angry, ferocious, rebellious record been released and embraced by the consuming public. Cuts like "Fuck tha Police," "Gangsta Gangsta," and "Straight Outta Compton" resonated with inner-city youth.
Both Ice Cube and Richard Delgado furiously challenged convention and status quo America.
andré douglas pond cummings, Richard Delgado and Ice Cube: Brothers in Arms, 33 Law & Ineq. 321 (2015).