So what was the tie between Bell and Obama, aside from that one incident? When Obama lectured at University of Chicago, he assigned Bell's material, including lines like this: "Slavery is, as an example of what white American has done, a constant reminder of what white American might do." And this: "In similar fashion, African Americans must confront and conquer the otherwise deadening reality of our permanent subordinate status."
This philosophy pervades President Obama's tenure. Obama's Department of Justice ignores obvious cases of voter intimidation so long as they come from the New Black Panthers; Obama himself thinks the police act "stupidly" when they arrest black professors who violate the law; Obama appoints Supreme Court justices who agree with his stances on race.
But most of all, Obama believes that the Constitution requires fundamental change, for both redistributive and racial reasons. That's what he campaigned on, even though we didn't know it. And that philosophy has deep roots, some of which find their source in Derrick Bell.