Valerie Jarrett is not only one of President Barack Obama’s closest advisors; she also is one of the most radical, with close connections to the Chicago left that nurtured Obama in his early political career.The Iranian-born Jarrett (her parents were American expatriates) found a foothold in Chicago politics through her marriage to Dr. William Robert Jarrett, whose father Vernon held sway as a columnist on the Chicago Sun-Times--for a time, the city’s only major black columnist.
In 1991, Vernon Jarrett enthusiastically promoted a Chicago visit by professor Derrick Bell, who was still on voluntary unpaid leave from Harvard Law School, in protest at the faculty’s refusal to hire visiting professor Regina Austin.
Barack Obama, who had joined Bell in that protest, had just graduated from Harvard and had begun work in Chicago at the law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland, a prominent local civil rights firm.
Bell’s visit had been arranged by the Community Renewal Society, a left-wing group that wanted Bell to help it launch a “racial justice agenda” across the Chicago area. He addressed the Society’s annual dinner, delivering a radical speech on the “permanence” of racism. Describing the civil rights movement as “childlike, trusting, believing, and hopelessly naive,” he suggested a more confrontational approach to race relations.
In addition to the dinner, Bell was invited to conduct a workshop with leading Chicago community organizers. Those invited included Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, as well as Father Michael Pfleger, both of whom became notorious during the 2008 presidential campaign.
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