As a 28-year-old student at Harvard Law Barack Obama supported the activism of Professor Derrick Bell and urged his peers to open their hearts and minds to the words of Critical Race Theory‘s founder.

But what did Bell believe and how could his ideas have any relation to the president’s policies today?

The answers to these questions reside in Bell’s 1998 book Afrolantica Legacies, published by Third World Press. I read it over the weekend and will share a series of excerpts this week with analysis.

The myth of the rise and fall of Afrolantica — a kind of Atlantis where only African Americans can live — opens the book and provides Bell with a way to tie together his essays, fictional dialogues, and political parables written through the ’80s and ’90s. From seven of these essays, Bell extracts these principles to serve as “rules of racial preservation”: