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The Honorable Robert Mack Bell

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Information about The Honorable Robert Mack Bell

Profile image of The Honorable Robert Mack Bell

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Appellate Court Judge
Lawyer
Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Pork
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/6/1943
Birth Location:
Rocky Mount, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Appellate Court Judge
Lawyer
Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Pork
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/6/1943
Birth Location:
Rocky Mount
See how The Honorable Robert Mack Bell is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Judge Robert Mack Bell was born on July 6, 1943 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina to Thomas and Rosa Lee Bell. His father was a construction worker while his mother worked as a domestic and care giver. His parents separated when he was a young, and Bell was raised by his mother who moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in search of better jobs. He attended Baltimore public schools and graduated from Dunbar High School in 1961. While finishing his senior year at Dunbar in 1960, he, along with eleven other students, were recruited by Morgan State College students to participate in a sit-in at Hooper’s Restaurant, a segregated business. The students were subsequently arrested and convicted for trespassing. Bell was the lead defendant for an appeal of the verdict in the landmark civil rights case, Bell v. Maryland, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and eventually ended racial segregation in Maryland.

After high school, Bell enrolled at Morgan State College in 1961 but was forced to take a year off from school after being hospitalized with tuberculosis. In 1963, he returned to Morgan where he was active in student government, and a member of the honor society and of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity. After he graduated second in his class with his A.B. degree in history and political science in 1966, he enrolled at Harvard Law School. The first student from Morgan to attend Harvard’s prestigious law school, Bell received his J.D. degree from there in 1969.

After passing the Maryland State Bar Examination in 1969, Bell was hired by Piper & Marbury, where he became the Baltimore law firm’s first black associate. In 1975, he became a judge on the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City in his first judgeship. In 1980, Bell served as a judge for the Circuit Court for Baltimore, remaining until 1984. He was then appointed to the bench of the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland, serving in that post until 1991 when he was elected Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. In 1996, Bell was appointed by Maryland Governor Parris Glendening as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. With that appointment he became the only active judge in Maryland to have served at least four years on all four levels of Maryland’s judiciary and the first African American to be named the state’s chief jurist.

Bell is a member of several legal organizations including the National, American and Maryland State Bar Associations. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work in the legal field and lectures often at schools and at community functions.

Appellate Court Judge Robert Mack Bell was interviewed by TheHistoryMakers on August 17, 2004.

See how The Honorable Robert Mack Bell is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Robert Mack Bell's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his father's childhood and explains how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his mother's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his parents moving to Baltimore, Maryland and their eventual separation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his knowledge of his family's history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his parents' jobs
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell remembers his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell remembers his paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell remembers childhood holiday traditions
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell remembers childhood activities and early lessons from his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his childhood neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 1 Story: 17 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his elementary school experiences at P.S. 101-A in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains why he completed elementary school at P.S. 139 in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his favorite subject from elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his aspiration to become a lawyer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his childhood personality and interests
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls attending Faith Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his experiences at Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his teachers and principal at Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his interests while attending Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls meeting Reginald F. Lewis at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his first sit-in experience at Hooper's Restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland in 1960
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell speculates about the reasons high school students were recruited for civil rights sit-ins
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his trespassing conviction during a sit-in at Hooper's Restaurant which led to Bell v. Maryland (1964)
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Bell v. Maryland (1964)
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about the careers of the lawyers and judges involved in the circuit court trial of Bell v. Maryland (1964)
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls the impact of the Bell v. Maryland (1964) trial on his senior year of high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains his decision to attend Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls keeping up with his studies at Morgan State College after he was hospitalized for a year
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his experience at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains his decision to attend Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his experience at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls the founding of BLSA, the Black American Law Students Association
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains how his academic success at Harvard Law School opened doors for other African American students
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his classes and professors at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his first job after law school with Piper & Marbury in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about being one of five African Americans to pass the Maryland State bar exam in 1969
  • Tape: 3 Story: 13 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his experience at the law firm Piper & Marbury in 1969
  • Tape: 3 Story: 14 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about Piper & Marbury's plan to provide community legal services
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his appointment to the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City in 1975
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains his decision to become a judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains the difference between the duties of a district court judge versus a circuit court judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains why he chose to move from the District Court of Maryland to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon the value of his judgeship
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls memorable cases from his years as a judge for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about the challenges of serving as a judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes changes he has observed in criminal cases throughout his career as a judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his experience on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his interest in the legal process as a judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains the difference between the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals of Maryland
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes the pace of work on the Court of Appeals of Maryland
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his responsibilities as chief judge on the Court of Appeals of Maryland
  • Tape: 4 Story: 14 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his achievements in light of his family background
  • Tape: 4 Story: 15 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell defines his judicial philosophy and approach
  • Tape: 4 Story: 16 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 17 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell narrates his photographs, pt. 2