Full Interview Transcript with Judge Robert Bell

Voices of Baltimore

Transcripts from Film Interviewees

April 17, 2016

Interviewee: Judge Robert Bell

Judge Robert Bell






Interviewer: Dr. Franklin CampbellJones



Dr. CampbellJones: OK, all right. I’m just going to have a conversation. The whole idea is just to capture your story, so I’m really – my voice is not even being recorded in this. All I’m going to try to do is just sort of keep the story line going and you can just take it wherever and however you’d like to take it. So they sent you the – you got a copy of the proposal. You didn’t have a chance to look at it, but there was something about it that was of interest obviously and you decided to respond and say, yeah, I’ll participate. So maybe some reflections on why you decided to participate.

Judge Bell: Well, Evelyn asked me to, actually (Laughter). Also, I suspect that when you get right down to it, the story of how one lived during a particular era is important to future generations, particularly if it’s an era in which the societies supposed goals were undermined or were not being followed in the appropriate way and were inconsistent with the mandates of the Constitution and the laws. How people reacted to that and how they responded is of course of relevance to those who come after, so as to ensure that perhaps, it won’t happen again. And so I was – that entered my mind because she told me that it had to do with how we lived in a segregated society, a society which was antithetical to what was supposed to be the norm.  And so I thought that it was appropriate to sit down and talk about that.

Dr. CampbellJones: Talk about that. So, let’s talk about that just for a little bit like the before and then we’ll move into a little bit of the after – you know, a little after you. Can you talk about what it was like to live…

Judge Bell: You know, it’s interesting. The chief way I knew about the segregation was by traveling south during the summer because we did live in a segregated society. We had our own schools. The families shopped at a particular place and in my case, it was Gay Street. We’d go down to Old Town Mall and all of the stores were there and we’d shop there. We went to the movie theaters in the same – in the neighborhood. We went to churches, of course. We went to the schools, and they were all segregated and you didn’t see the signs that said white color in those neighborhoods areas, you saw them when you went downtown. If you had to go to a department store – Brager-Gutman’s, for example – to buy something that you couldn’t get at Old Town Mall. That’s when you saw them. And you saw the movie theaters when you went outside of your own neighborhood, but primarily you didn’t see it because parents kept you in that neighborhood. And actually, you were kept in that neighborhood by – not necessarily because parents kept you there, but because there was no place else to go. I mean, there was a barrier there, which was constructed by what you did on a daily basis and there was really no need to go outside that barrier. But when I went down south for the summers to visit my uncles and my aunts and my – and while they were living, my grandparents. It was an obvious difference because there was not that segregation. They lived on farms. They were sharecroppers. But when you went downtown on a Saturday, which was the day when everybody went downtown, they dealt with the same merchants – the same stores – that everybody else dealt with, but there was a difference. They went in the back doors. They were treated differently. In the restaurants, you could not go in the front door and sit down. You had to go in the back and order and take it out. The signs were very prevalent – white, black – or colored, actually, it was. And also, getting there was an experience, as well. It was a difference in transportation. As I recall, I know you couldn’t ride the Trailways – I mean, The Greyhound bus after Washington, DC. You could take the Greyhound to DC, but you’d have transfer to the Trailways. Then, you’d take the Trailways and you – and it would take you south. I don’t remember whether I ever had a problem with seating on the bus. I’ve always liked the back of the bus because for some reason I thought it was safer. But I’ve begun to wonder whether or not that preference was something that was instilled in me because of a need to avoid embarrassment or because it was a real preference – I don’t know. But I do remember I never had a problem with seating on the buses. But in the South, when you went to the movies, there was a very real distinction between where you could sit. Blacks sat up top. Whites sat on the bottom, which was very interesting to me because it struck me that (laughter) if one really wanted to be mean (laughter), the most vulnerable place in the world would be – was at the bottom, as opposed to the top. But anyway, that’s the way it was done. There was a real deference that had to be paid to white people whether they were old or young. And I was never more embarrassed than when I saw my uncles being treated in a disrespectful way, and how they accepted that position.

Dr. CampbellJones: Just slow down on that one just a second. Was that…

Judge Bell: That was down in the South.

Dr. CampbellJones: That was the South. OK.

Judge Bell: That’s down South. Now, my mother was a different ballgame because my mother, when she dealt with the landlords, other white people who came to the house, she didn’t take any deference – she didn’t give them any deference at all. My mother was a very strong-willed person who spoke her mind and insisted on being respected. I never had an issue with how she responded. It was my uncles. And I didn’t have an issue with my grandfather because my grandfather was one who was respected in the neighborhood and did not take, as my uncle used to say, tea for the fever from anybody. But there was a real distinction between how I grew up here and what I saw there. And I suspect, it was because of the way we were shielded or the way the society structured itself so that we did not have to venture beyond certain boundaries and so we didn’t see, on a daily basis, or feel on a daily basis, the kinds of discrimination that those in the South felt every day.

Dr. CampbellJones: So, you had sort of a shield to sort of protect.

Judge Bell: Yeah, I mean, if you go to the movies, you go to The Eden, you go to The Dunbar, you go to The Park – they weren’t segregated. You sat where you want, you know, those were the movies. You went to the schools. They weren’t segregated – I mean, they were segregated, so you didn’t have white people there so you just, you know, you interacted amongst yourselves. But one thing was clear – everybody understood the effects of the segregation because the teachers were very quick to point out that you had a responsibility beyond yourself, that when you ventured beyond your boundaries, you were representing the race. You were not representing just yourself, so you had to – they insisted upon, you are getting your education because that was what was good for the whole community, not just for you. Something that was expected of you.

Dr. CampbellJones: What you just explained is elements of (unintelligible) when I reflect on my own life. Why don’t I tell you a story? I’m going, yeah, I’m hitting the same…

Judge Bell: Exactly right.

Dr. CampbellJones: That’s true. So as long as when (unintelligible) you, it’s like, you’re almost describing a world where a person can be a complete person, even though it’s a segregated world, in a sense of the whole society.

Judge Bell: That’s exactly right.

Dr. CampbellJones: But that person can grow complete there, at least in the sense of those boundaries. And there’s a certain amount of completeness I can take with me even beyond those boundaries.

Judge Bell: Well, you had to. The idea was that the reason you are getting the education was so that when you went beyond the boundaries, you were able to represent the race and be a credit to it, as opposed to a detriment. I mean, that was the whole point. And so that was also the point of Black History Month – or actually, Negro History Week in those days. To point out those who were – who had made it – quote, unquote, so to speak – and to talk about what it was about them that we ought to aspire to be. You know, we didn’t get all of the major inventors and whatnot, but we got certain of them. We didn’t get all the major literary people, but we got some of them. And we got more of the athletes and whatnot, but the point was the same whatever – whoever – they were. That they were examples of what you can do, but also what you should aspire to do not for yourself, alone, but for the benefit of the entire community.

Dr. CampbellJones: I once had my physics teacher – High School physics teacher – explain to others around me once I had gotten my doctorate, that it was always known that I would get my doctorate. It was not a choice whether I should get it or not, that this was a have to. And the fact that I had gotten it was simply, basically, a statement as to how things had to be. Which is very interesting in terms of how I hear you explaining some of the pre-segregated kind of mindset.

Judge Bell: Oh, yeah. It was even in the community, too, because if you – we lived in a community where you had probably all of the economic strata in one place – you had doctors, you had dentists, you had ministers, police officers – everybody lived in the same neighborhood and you knew each other, and if somebody graduated from high school and was on their way to college or something, it was celebration for the entire neighborhood. It wasn’t just that family. All because, I think there was in an interrelationship, an interconnectedness that was perceived to exist so that if today you had a celebration of this person breaking a barrier, we could look forward to somebody else doing it tomorrow. And it was not something that just that family celebrated, but everybody did, which also related to how we were disciplined.

Dr. CampbellJones: Can you talk about that just a little bit?

Judge Bell: Oh, yeah. I mean, it was clear that it was a community, in terms of the discipline. I mean, we didn’t have the same kinds of reaction to outside discipline then as we have today. If I went outside and I happened to do something wrong and a neighbor chastised me, that was fine. In fact, if the neighbor did more than chastise me, that was also fine and you didn’t have the arguments back and forth. And it all had to do with making sure that all of us lived up to a certain standard or met a certain standard because that was the standard for the community. And it said something about how we related to not only each other, but how we would relate outside of our own little community.

Dr. CampbellJones: So that was a here and the anticipation or the thought of moving further with all of this.

Judge Bell: Exactly. It was all about the community. I mean, you know, it wasn’t said, but it was really a recognition that we were all a part of this whole – and the burdens of that community rested on the shoulders of every one of us. Not just one of us, everyone one of us. That was the message that came from the schools – from the teachers. My mother, who was not educated – I think she had a third-grade education at best – insisted on an education. Intuitively, she knew that that was the way out and that was the way to make your life better than hers had been.

Dr. CampbellJones: And that’s what out means.

Judge Bell: That’s right. That’s exactly what it meant. And so she insisted on, even though she couldn’t read very well, she insisted on our going to school at least half prepared. And insistent to avow on our going every day. And insisted on our doing our lessons because if you didn’t succeed at school, then, of course, you wouldn’t necessarily succeed after school. So she pushed. And if you got a reputation for being pretty good, everybody around you pushed and made it – you know, encouraged you. And that did, in fact, encourage you to do better than you might otherwise have done had they not encouraged you.

Dr. CampbellJones: Were there other siblings?

Judge Bell: I had two – two brothers.

Dr. CampbellJones: OK so where’d you fall in there?

Judge Bell: Last. (laughter)

Dr. CampbellJones: I’m asking you for the reason because I always followed my older brother who was – there was always some living up to do and…

Judge Bell: No, I didn’t have that problem. It was the other way around.

Dr. CampbellJones: It was the other way around?

Judge Bell: Other way around. My – I had two brothers, Ellison and Joe, and they’re both deceased now, but Ellison went off to service early on. He was about five years older than me and then Joe was closest to me and we were always closer than Ellison and me. But what happened really was, they saw a potential in me that they were willing to sacrifice for, in that sense. They were never as academically inclined as I was.  They were inclined to push me toward achieving whatever I could achieve. I was the first one to go to law – go to – first one to go to college as well – well actually, I really wasn’t the first one to go, I was the first one to finish. Joe went for a short time.

Dr. CampbellJones: Oh, I see.

Judge Bell: But he never finished and I was the first one to finish and I was the first to go to law school.

Dr. CampbellJones: But there’s sort of this energy now that’s surrounding you…

Judge Bell: Yeah, they’re pushing and…

Dr. CampbellJones: They’re pushing.

Judge Bell: And they’re helping.

Dr. CampbellJones: And at some point it – I’m just grabbing my experience with that – because I was third – but at some point it became, kind of, a pull for me as well as I went through. But more so with my nieces and nephews and so and so forth.

Judge Bell: OK, yeah. Well, yeah you try to set the example. Yeah, and – but I didn’t have any – I really didn’t have the role modeling in the upper education area. Right. And, of course my mother – as I told you – had very little education, so all she was doing was pushing. And at every stage she was as encouraging as she could possibly be.

Dr. CampbellJones: So, you’re really blazing a trail here.

Judge Bell: Yeah, I was the first, yeah.

Dr. CampbellJones: Great. Now, I read in the bio just a little bit about, you know, a court case.

Judge Bell: Yeah.

Dr. CampbellJones: And for me it was Woolworth (laughter).

Judge Bell: It was what?

Dr. CampbellJones: It was Woolworth for me…

Judge Bell: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well see, and mine – it was Morgan actually – see what people – I like to keep clear in my own mind and in the minds of anybody who watches that – it was Morgan that did that as opposed to me. I was Student Council President at Dunbar High School and the only thing I had to do was to recruit students to participate in the sit – in demonstrations. They came to me for that purpose. The leadership was Morgan. On the bus, the captain was Morgan – and it was a gentleman and his wife – and the strategy was Morgan. And all we were – we were – in effect – fodder in that campaign and it worked out. It worked out. Interestingly enough, they chose to run with high school students. Now that might surprise folk and after the – a few years after the fact – I started thinking about why would he take high school students as well because high school students typically would be juveniles. And juveniles generally wouldn’t get the exposure that would be necessary to have an impact. But it turns out that the Morgan students were much more attuned to what the reality was than I would have thought, because high school students in Baltimore were adults at 16. So if you got juniors and seniors from high school you had adults and it wouldn’t go juvenile.  And that was only true in Baltimore City though, so it showed some astuteness on the part of the Morgan students. So we were arrested. We were tried and convicted. And of course that spurred the appeal, which eventually got to the Supreme Court of the United States. And – which never decided the merits by the way. The Supreme Court of the United States deadlocked in effect.  It had the three of its judges who would have affirmed the conviction. Three of the justices would have reversed and another three recognize that there was a middle-ground. You need not affirm it or reverse it, you can send it back to the Court of Appeals and have the Court of Appeals look at it in the light of the changed circumstances – because by the time we got to the Supreme Court, the law in Maryland had changed. It was no longer a violation of the law to sit in a segregated lunch counter. They had to provide public accommodation. That’s what the law said. And so, the Supreme Court said Court of Appeals look at this situation in light of that changed circumstances and it came back on that basis. And the Court of Appeals at first said, we stand by our initial decision and then later upon motion for reconsideration reversed itself. And so, I’m no longer a convicted misdemeanor so – which makes a difference because if I’d been a convicted misdemeanor I’d have to probably – I would’ve had to have justified my ethical standing to get into the Bar, but as it turns out that was no longer an issue.

Dr. CampbellJones: Wow. Now this is amazing, because all this happened in a – somewhere at the break points – I guess – of Jim Crow, sort of, beginning being challenged completely. And in the attempts of, sort of, dying a slow death and this is all, sort of, contributing to that.

Judge Bell: Well, you know, it’s very interesting about that. You know, to me – the breakpoint was Brown against Board, because when the Supreme Court – even though it was acting only in the realm of education theoretically – when the Supreme Court made the point that separate but equal was no longer the rule of law, it pretty much dealt the death knell to segregation – legalized segregation – apartheid American-style. And so, what we were doing was playing out the string. We were just before the Civil Rights Act and just before the Voting Rights Act. And it was inevitable that that would occur because once Brown was decided there was no way you would be able to legally – to legally – justify that kind of segregation.

Dr. CampbellJones: Right. Right. So now when you think about, you know, that pre- and now, you know, if there was such a thing as a clear line and now we’re in someplace else – obviously that’s not the case – but if you just, sort of – I mean, what was, sort of, your experience beyond that as that started to unfold?

Judge Bell: Well, the truth of the matter is we’ve had ebb, you know, ebbs and flows, I mean, you know, I don’t see – I see us on this – the – same path today as we were on then. While we have made a tremendous amount of progress – if you look at it – we have a good ways to go. And a lot of it has to do with trying to beat back – once again – the same kinds of issues that we were facing back then. You know, you would’ve thought that you wouldn’t have to fight certain battles again, but we are now looking at a situation where race as a factor – a negative factor – is again raising its head. Racism in this country is becoming much more tolerant. It started back in – I guess it started with Reagan – and he talked about the bright city on the hill or something of that sort and being proud of the country and urging people not to look critically at the flaws in the society.  You’ve got the same thing coming back around again.

Dr. CampbellJones: Make America great again.

Judge Bell: Yeah, make American great again. You know, it’s OK – it’s OK – to be politically incorrect, which is a sign of – well, a phrase – which I think has a racial component to it. I see us in a much better position than we were in 1960, but I see us in need of continuing to be vigilant and fighting that same fight to bring attention to what may be considered by some to be politically incorrect. But the fact that we still have this kind of racial – racialization – going on that needs to be addressed – needs to be called out.

Dr. CampbellJones: You know what’s fascinating is that not only is it part of the discourse, it’s starting to rear the head in terms of the policy.  It’s becoming a part of legal statute.

Judge Bell: Of course it is. That’s that the problem. And if this election goes the wrong way, we may be on our way back even further to the way it was.

Dr. CampbellJones: The way it was.

Judge Bell: Think about it – photo ID is a form of poll tax. It puts a burden on voting for that God’s sake. So, the Voting Rights Act took care that – we thought. We’ve got to fight that one again. The preclearance was the way we were avoiding the need to fight this thing one an individualized basis, but when you get to a point where the politicization of the court gives rise to decisions such as this – you’re going to find yourself more and more embroiled in a repeat of the same fight over and over and over again. And I think we’re there.

Dr. CampbellJones: Yeah. Well you know what? When listening to you sir, what’s fascinating about it is you talked about the normalized society of this. And we have this dual society going – it’s very normal. And I flash back of my early beginnings – so I had – we had our own movie theater…

Judge Bell: All right. Yeah.

Dr. CampbellJones: That was a normal world.

Judge Bell: Normal, right. And it became abnormal when I went uptown…

Dr. CampbellJones: When you went uptown – that’s exactly right.

Judge Bell: Yeah it became abnormal. And so here we are again. I’m saying we’re to sort of – we went face a normalization that went beyond those moments. And we played around with it for about 30 – 40 years. And now the question is, are we now going to re-create those? The answer is – I don’t think you can? I really don’t think you can. I think the tensions are going to be such that it’s going to be an uncomfortable number of years – while we work out the kinks – but I don’t think you can ever go back to that kind of separateness.

Dr. CampbellJones: To that degree?

Judge Bell: I don’t think so. I really don’t think so. Not only don’t I think you could – I don’t think we should quite frankly, because to do so will be to admit defeat.  We have a society that is founded on certain principles although they were not ever really adhered to – even from the beginning – but it’s founded on those principles. We have come to the point where we have gotten closer to the reality – than we’ve – than many of us ever thought would be possible, so once you’ve done that I don’t think you can ever go back and comfortably reside in a society which is different than that. And then be – and be able to say – with pride about the society that you’ve built. That it has the – that it has been true to those mandates. It can’t happen. So, it means that we’re going to be in a perpetual state of challenge and response until we achieve a – some – semblance of equilibrium with regard to that mandate.

Dr. CampbellJones: It’s fascinating you say that. I was on the campus of Towson – just Friday they were having a rally – and I went and listened to the young men and women speak. And as I sat there and I listened to them I flashback about 45 years and that could have been me standing there and giving that speech when I’m in my first year at college.

Judge Bell: What was the rally about?

Dr. CampbellJones: It was about African-Americans bringing some, sort of, sense of security back about the students felt threatened on campus. Basically, we had young people spilling their souls and guts publicly about how they felt on campus. And, sort of, this invisible force out there that nobody can really identify. And everybody’s, sort of, looking around and saying well, what’s the problem? But yet, you know, Channel 2 is there and everybody’s there – and I said to myself oh my goodness.

Judge Bell: That’s right. That’s the point. The more things change – in many ways – the more they remain the same. But, of course, if one thinks about it though – what would life be like if you didn’t have issues that you had to grapple with from time to time? What would it be like? It’d be rather dull I suspect. And also – the other piece of it is – that I don’t think there could be very much improvement, because to the extent that everybody is satisfied it becomes a static kind of a thing. Whereas if there are issues to be resolved and there’s a dynamic – that dynamism – that takes hold and it moves you – impels you – forward.

Dr. CampbellJones: If you were talking to those students, or, you know, the African-Americans students that were there, what would we say to them? If we were talking to the non- African-American students that were there – college students – what would we say to them – given your experience that you have?

Judge Bell: Well, for the African-American students it’s fairly simple that one has to look at where they are and where they want to be and where they think the society ought to be and they out to move forward to make sure that they make known what their views are. Now, for the non- African-American students, one has to cause them to reflect upon the effect of a position that would deny to others rights that they themselves have. I mean, you got to have people look inward to see what the society would be like if they had certain rights but nobody else had them. I’m reminded of – was it – Derrick Bell who wrote a book, “Faces At The Bottom Of The Well”, which looked at the issue from the standpoint of what would the world be like were there no African-Americans in the world. And when you paint that picture, you know, you tend to get some sense that it’s not really the utopia that you think it would be. And the other piece of it is that – when you start thinking about it from that perspective one has to say to oneself, yeah that’s this community today, but what about… tomorrow. What community is there going to be next? And it’s really a – I try to get them to look inward. To determine whether or not, what they are about is going to be positive. In the long run, as opposed to feeling good today. But I guess for us though, we’ve always got to keep in mind that our responsibility is going to be to take positions that are right, no matter how much they seem to grate on somebody else’s nerve. If they are right, you’ve got to take those positions. Even though it may have some impact or consequence to you, which is not as you would want. Take those positions and move forward with it because you’re not doing it simply for yourself. You’re doing it for the good of the country.

Dr. CampbellJones: Yeah, I had a young man explain something to me once. He was – I was sitting on his dissertation committee. And he was doing a research piece up in Salem, New Jersey. And I was asking him about some of the things about how he’s going to get some teachers engaged. He says, he has a hard time getting white teachers engaged with African American students. And he finally came to the conclusion. He says, “I don’t have any research on this.” He says, “But my gut feeling is that they don’t get engaged, because they don’t have to”. He says, “If they had to, they would, but since they don’t have to, they don’t”. Which I thought was a very interesting, way to look at things. And I – at first- I kind of went – “Well, I’m not so sure about this”. Then I just started paying attention for about ten years. And so, I listened to people talk, and I said “Would you do this if you had to?” And I remember once asking an African American – would you talk about racism if you had to? And he said no. Don’t want to talk about it. “I’d rather be out gardening. This is not something I want to talk about. I talk about it because I have to.” Which is very interesting.

Judge Bell: Well, see? That’s one of problems, too. One of the problems is that that we don’t want to talk about it and we shy away from it. It’s uncomfortable for us to do it. But the truth of the matter is, the only way you’re really going to get to the bottom of it is by confronting it. And the reason the white teachers don’t have to, is because of white privilege. That’s it. So, somebody’s got to challenge it. And you – what you hear nowadays is people challenge that and there – the pushback is, “Every time you – we see you, you’re talking about race.” When the answer is, that’s necessary in order to get rid of it. For goodness sake. If you don’t talk about, if you don’t understand it, you’ll never be able to eradicate it. Or, if you don’t expect or admit that it exists, you’ll never get rid of it. And so, I think you have to, because it’s right thing to do. That’s the whole point of it. It’s the right thing to do.

Dr. CampbellJones: That’s what made me think about that. When you said the right thing to do. That’s why I thought about that because I’ve always – well, we have to talk because it’s the right thing to do. And then the question becomes, are you willing to do the right thing? That’s right.

Judge Bell: A lot of people don’t want to do the right thing because they believe that the consequences will be too great. You know, and so you take these athletes you know, who never get engaged. The reason is because they don’t want to run the risk of forgoing the money. Even though it is the right thing to do. What you’ve got to do, is do like Jackie Robinson did. You got to stand up for something. And it’ll work out. It did for him.

Dr. CampbellJones: Yeah, that’s really interesting because, you know, being in that bubble early, and everybody telling you, that when you leave, you’ve got to represent. I know that was the daily speech I got.

Judge Bell: You got it, yeah.

Dr. CampbellJones: Like every day, I mean my mother, the people – the neighbor on the street, as I walked to school, when I to school. When I walked home …

Judge Bell: It’s there. That’s right.

Dr. CampbellJones: It was like the air I breathe. And so, it was just every day, that that was, you know – I grew up on that.

Judge Bell: I’m sure, yeah.

Dr. CampbellJones: Breastfed off of it.

Judge Bell: Oh, no question about it, yeah.

Dr. CampbellJones: So, you know, when I look at that, and I look at today – I’m not so sure that kind of feeding is going on.

Judge Bell: It’s not. It is absolutely not. What happened unfortunately is, integration has had its own problems. Because there’s never – once you had the integration so-called, I mean it was never complete, but once you’ve got to the point where it was no longer illegal, or no longer legal, then there was no need to talk about the issues. And so, what happens? People start going back to doing the same things they did before.  We integrated the schools in 1954, September. Decision comes down in May. September officially it’s done. But was there ever any integration? The answer is no, not really. You had certain people going to certain schools. But at Dunbar, we had one white teacher and zero white students.  For the entirety of my – the rest of my career in high school. But it was a de- segregated school. And the same thing was true with most of the black schools around the city. And there was some integration at some of the white schools, but it was not nearly what it should have been. But, everybody was happy with that. And then you don’t get the discussion going on, you don’t have the same kinds of demonstrations. You don’t have the lawsuits. Except for busing which was on the other side. You know, busing discussion was on the other side. “Let’s stop it.” And but that was isolated to certain areas. At the end of the day, 20 years later, 30 years later, 40 years later, we’ve got a school system which is essentially the same as it was before. With one exception, you don’t have the same kind of commitment on the part of the teachers, that you had back then. You don’t have that discussion about how important it is for you to “represent” in the words of the young people these days. You have these teachers who are really more interested in collecting a paycheck then preparing students. You have the dismantling of – at the university level.  You have the dismantling of certain schools. And at the city level, you have the you have the movement into schools of teachers whose really commitment to the students is suspect. And so you don’t have a student body which is as prepared as they would’ve been under the old regime.

Dr. CampbellJones: All of that energy now is, is lost.

Judge Bell: Unfortunately. I would prefer a situation where every day I went to school I had someone committed to me, telling me that I have to do something. Than to have someone marking time to get the paycheck at the end of the month. And I think that’s where we are unfortunately.

Dr. CampbellJones: Yeah, I went back to visit my math teacher, Mrs. Jones, who when I went back there about, 15 years ago. Arkansas. I met her, she was out tending her rose garden. I stopped, like I had always done. You stop and you visit. You say hi to folks. I went over to visit her. She talked to me, and she asked me, she said have you got your MA yet? I said I got my MA. She said so when you getting your PhD? I said I’m in the program now. She said “Okay, when you finish, I want you to talk to ….” yadda, yadda, yadda – because they’re engineering degrees now. Then she told me, all of my classmates – every single one of them and the advanced degrees they had gotten at the level – and she still had there…

Judge Bell: Of course, they had that commitment. You don’t have that same thing anymore. See all of my teachers are dead now. Pretty much yeah. Except for, you know, college level. You got two or three of them still running around. But they had a difference, of approach than professors of today. In fact, many of my professors used to complain that the students aren’t the same. And I said, you know, I said to Dr. Walker one time, “Yeah the students aren’t the same, but there’s a reason for that.” Teachers aren’t the same. I mean you know, you don’t have the same kind of regime under which they come. And the same kind of direction that they’ve received. They don’t have the same kind of commitment on their part that we had. But that was because, of what, you know there was a – it’s something that’s important from both sides on this thing. If I’ve got a commitment, yeah, I’m going to do alright but it would help if I had somebody else pushing on the other side.

Dr. CampbellJones: Well I’m done with all of my questions. Is there something else you’d like to add?

Judge Bell: No, well – I don’t think so. I – no.

Dr. CampbellJones: No. OK, we have to spend more time. I’m sitting down here talking to you, and I was going, he’s telling my story.

Judge Bell: Well I mean it – If you start a certain place, it’s pretty much the same. It is. I think it’s pretty much the same.

Dr. CampbellJones: Yeah. It’s amazing. I mean when you look back at it, you’re telling that story and I grew up in the deep south. And I’m thinking – wait a minute this is the same story.

 Judge Bell: It is yeah.

Dr. CampbellJones: It’s amazing.

Judge Bell: Well because you know, believe it or not, Baltimore is really close to the deep south. I mean you could say what you want, I mean Baltimore isn’t all that far removed. This is a southern state. And you know they sympathized – we sympathized in Baltimore with the Confederacy. We didn’t sympathize with The Union.

Dr. CampbellJones: I’ve been catching up on the history. Very interesting history.

Judge Bell: Yeah, you know Roger Brooke Taney came from Maryland. He did not come from Mississippi. He came from Maryland. In fact, he came from Frederick, Maryland. Which is to the west and to the north. I mean this is – it is significant that Maryland is below the Mason-Dixon line. It’s significant.

Dr. CampbellJones: It may not be the deep south, but you’re in the south.

Judge Bell: You’re in the south, no question about it. None whatsoever.

Dr. CampbellJones: Well, thank you.

Judge Bell: My pleasure. Oh well you just about out of time, aren’t you?

Dr. CampbellJones: Yeah, yeah.

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