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Professor Zuni Cruz selected for Derrick Bell Legacy Award

May 17, 2016 - Tamara Williams

Professor Christine Zuni Cruz
Professor Zuni Cruz

UNM Law School Professor Christine Zuni Cruz has been selected as a recipient of the 2016 Derrick Bell Legacy Award.

The award honors critical race theorists, scholars, and educators committed to advancing social justice and educational race equity.

In her research and teaching, Zuni Cruz, a member of Isleta Pueblo, explores critical race theory, which recognizes that peoples' lived realities, whether it is living in poverty or in prison, have a racial and power dynamic. This theory provides a frame to analyze Indigenous existence amidst the settler societies and states that sprang up around Indigenous Peoples.

Emerita Professor Margaret Montoya, a previous recipient of the award, says, “I am delighted to celebrate Christine as she is honored by the Critical Race Studies in Education Association, the group of scholars, including many recent PhD’s, doing the most innovative work on critical race theory.”

“Christine’s academic work has been ground-breaking, which is reflected in the number of awards that she has already garnered,” Montoya continues. “Christine embodies CRSEA values, and she has been a courageous risk-taker in ways that resonate with the life led by Professor Derrick Bell who spoke truth to power, often sacrificing personal comfort to advance social justice. I can say that this new cadre of CRSEA scholar-activists should know Christine’s work, and therefore this award named for Professor Bell is timely and well deserved.”

Zuni Cruz says that she is quite honored to receive this award. “To join those recognized in Professor Derrick Bell's name is to be twice rewarded,” she adds. “Professor Bell and prior recipients of the award are leading critical race intellectuals whose example, work, and scholarship have encouraged me in my teaching, writing, and thought. Some, such as Emerita Professor Montoya, have been my active mentors. As a legal educator, I view critical race analysis as crucial to understanding the law.”

Recipients will be recognized on Friday, June 3, 2016 at the CRSEA Annual Conference in Denver CO.