CRT起源于德里克·贝尔，金伯利·克伦肖和理查德·德尔加多等法律学者，他们认为种族主义和白人至上主义是美国法律制度的一部分 – 而美国社会的要素却很大 – 尽管语言与“平等保护”相关。早期的支持者主张对法律进行背景的，历史性的分析，这种分析将挑战看似中立的概念，如精英和客观性，这在实践中倾向于强化白人至上主义。反对压迫有色人种的斗争是早期批判性种族理论家的主要目标;换句话说，他们试图改变现状，而不仅仅是批评它。最后，CRT是跨学科的，吸收了广泛的学术意识形态，包括女权主义，马克思主义和后现代主义。德里克贝尔经常被认为是CRT的先驱。他做出了重要的理论贡献，例如认为具有里程碑意义的民权案例布朗诉教育委员会是精英白人的自身利益的结果，而不是希望废除学校和改善黑人儿童的教育。然而，贝尔也批评了法律领域本身，强调了哈佛法学院等精英学校的排他性实践。他甚至辞去了职务，抗议哈佛未能雇用女性色彩系。其他早期重要人物是艾伦·弗里曼和理查德·德尔加多。
CRT originated from Derrick Bell, Kimberly Crenshaw and Richard Delgado, who believe that racism and white supremacism are part of the American legal system – and the elements of American society are large – though Language is related to “equal protection”. Early supporters advocated a background, historical analysis of the law that would challenge seemingly neutral concepts such as elites and objectivity, which in practice tend to reinforce white supremacism. The struggle against oppressive people of color is the main goal of early critical racial theorists; in other words, they are trying to change the status quo, not just to criticize it. Finally, CRT is interdisciplinary and incorporates a wide range of academic ideologies, including feminism, Marxism, and postmodernism. Derek Bell is often considered a pioneer of CRT. He made important theoretical contributions, such as the belief that the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education is the result of the self-interest of elite whites, rather than the desire to abolish schools and improve the education of black children. However, Bell also criticized the legal field itself, emphasizing the exclusive practice of elite schools such as Harvard Law School. He even resigned to protest that Harvard failed to hire a female color system. Other early important figures were Alan Freeman and Richard Delgado.