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Charles Ogletree

  • Martha S. Jones speaking from a podium.

    ‘Just a little more free’

    November 22, 2022

    At the inaugural Belinda Sutton Distinguished Lecture, Johns Hopkins Professor Martha Jones chronicles her journey into her family’s ties to slavery and to Harvard.

  • Charles Ogletree in his Office

    Ogletree family donates the celebrated law professor and civil rights scholar’s papers to Harvard Law School

    October 13, 2022

    The Harvard Law School Library has been chosen as a steward of the papers of Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., the celebrated and influential Harvard Law professor and civil rights scholar.

  • Obama tells Harvard team basketball was about more than him

    September 12, 2022

    The Washington Post – Former President Barack Obama told the Harvard men’s basketball team on Friday that the sport taught him “it wasn’t just about…

  • We fail to view gun violence through a racial equity lens

    April 2, 2021

    A letter by David J. Harris and Katy Naples-MitchellWho counts when it comes to “mass shootings” and gun reform? The March 24 editorial “A new window for gun reform” misconstrued the crisis of gun violence. In particular, we take issue with the statement that “the last mass shooting incident in a public place was in March 2020.” Over the past year, if one defines a mass shooting as one in which there are multiple victims, there have been hundreds, more than in recent years, including at restaurants, gas stations, bowling alleys, and grocery stores. However, few have captured the national spotlight. Nearly 50 percent of these unprecedented yet unnoticed mass shootings have targeted Black people and communities of color. Evidently they don’t register when, as professor Charles Ogletree pointedly questioned more than 30 years ago, we “expect them to happen there.” According to data released in February by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young Black men and teens are killed by guns at a rate 20 times their white counterparts. Black women and girls are also at highest risk: four times more likely to be killed than white women and girls. Stricter gun control laws won’t solve this public health crisis.

  • Guy-Uriel Charles

    Constitutional scholar Guy-Uriel Charles, a leading expert on race, politics and election law, to join HLS

    January 7, 2021

    Guy-Uriel Charles will join the Harvard Law faculty as the inaugural Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Professor of Law, effective July 1. He will also serve as faculty director of HLS’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.

  • ‘Her honesty and directness were stunning’: A Globe reporter shares how she told the Ogletrees’ story

    October 29, 2019

    On Sunday, the Globe’s Jenna Russell told the tale of renowned Harvard Law School Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr.’s journey into the fog of Alzheimer’s disease. We caught up with Russell to ask about the process of reporting this sensitive story and about the outpouring she’s received from readers..."One thing that was important to Pam [Ogletree] was to tell people about some of the treatment possibilities that do exist, in the hope that others might find them sooner than the Ogletrees did, and reap more benefits. But it’s been so interesting to see the different ways readers are responding. A handful found the story too hopeful or too sweet, not dark enough in what it shows of the disease. But overwhelmingly, I am hearing from caregivers who recognize themselves and their own experience in what Pam and Charles are living through, in love that survives the worst things life can offer. I think that recognition means the most to me."

  • As his Alzheimer’s looms, Charles and Pam Ogletree take one last walk in love

    October 28, 2019

    The couple walk shoulder to shoulder, stride for stride, like two people who have walked together a long time. The man looks steadily ahead and moves with purpose. The woman turns to him, smiling, and speaks quietly. He nods his head slightly but does not reply. His silence would have once surprised her, but it is expected now, painfully familiar, four years into their life with Alzheimer’s. The great man at her side goes days sometimes without speaking. She isn’t certain, now, if he knows her name, or if he always recalls his own. His name is Charles J. Ogletree Jr., and he was, not long ago, a dazzling, dominating legal mind, a theorist and scholar internationally revered for his brilliance and compassion. He inspired generations of students as a Harvard Law School professor, including the young Barack and Michelle Obama. He was a crusader for civil rights, the founder of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, and a prolific author who investigated police conduct in black communities and the role of race in capital punishment, long before the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

  • A Brief Guide to the Joe Biden–Anita Hill Controversy

    April 29, 2019

    Hours after Joe Biden made his presidential run official last Thursday, Anita Hill’s name was back in the news. Earlier this month, with an eye toward getting into the race, Biden called Hill to “express his regret” for her treatment during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, the New York Times reported. ... Lastly, Biden’s critics say that his own questioning of Hill was unfair, blaming him for “setting an accusing, skeptical tone and losing control,” the Washington Post reports. Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and Hill’s attorney at the time, told Politico he still blames Biden for mishandling the hearing: “I was shocked and dismayed that Joe Biden was asking questions that didn’t seem appropriate and was not in her corner as a Democrat,” Ogletree said. “The point is that he’s supposed to be neutral, but his questions to Anita Hill were as piercing as anyone’s.” Ogletree said he’s brought up the hearings with Biden in the years since, but hasn’t been satisfied with the response. “He’s said that this job was to control the hearing, that he was surprised by the result as well,” Ogletree said.

  • To do good in the world

    January 30, 2019

    Alumni discuss pathways to public service work in advance of Public Interested Conference. ... For [David] Harris, Ph.D. ’92, that path was long and meandering. It began with his grandfather, a Unitarian minister who preached the imperative to demonstrate faith by improving society. Harris struggled, however, with how to go about that. He ultimately chose to follow his mother’s example and study sociology, but it would take him nine years and stints at three schools to finish his undergraduate degree. ... After 10 years there, he met with Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree about the possibility of joining a new institute at Harvard that Ogletree had created to work on race and justice issues. “It was clear to both of us that it was just a perfect fit. And it has been,” said Harris, who has been the managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice since 2006.

  • ‘I go way back with Professor Ogletree’

    ‘I go way back with Professor Ogletree’

    June 26, 2018

    On the HLS campus this past fall, eminent friends, students, and colleagues gathered to celebrate a man the world knows as a leading force for racial equality and social justice, and the Harvard community knows affectionately as Tree.

  • Tomiko Brown-Nagin on the Civil Rights lawyer who paved the path

    Tomiko Brown-Nagin on the Civil Rights lawyer who paved the path

    May 17, 2018

    On the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Harvard Gazette sat down with Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and faculty director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, to discuss Houston’s role and influence in the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Civil rights attorney Charles Ogletree’s mind is a weapon. Now, it’s fighting him.

    December 4, 2017

    Blocks away from Harvard Law School, renowned civil rights attorney and law professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. was at home with family, readying himself for a celebration in his honor...In his decades-long career, Ogletree’s mind has been his weapon in legal cases that took him from D.C. Superior Court to the U.S. Supreme Court. He represented Anita Hill when she made her 1991 sexual harassment claims against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. And he was a longtime moderator of a 1990s PBS series on ethics, where he challenged some of the nation’s top business and political leaders in debate...Now Ogletree’s mind is battling him. Four years ago, when he was 60, family and colleagues noticed he had begun stumbling over names and repeating stories. The following year, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a disease that usually ensnares victims 65 and older...Ogletree, sitting next to her, is optimistic. “This disease hasn’t done nothing. It doesn’t bother me,” he said with a large smile.

  • Mentors, Friends and Sometime Adversaries 4

    Mentors, Friends and Sometime Adversaries

    November 29, 2017

    Mentorships between Harvard Law School professors and the students who followed them into academia have taken many forms over the course of two centuries.

  • ‘Superstar’ Law Professor Honored with Criminal Justice Professorship

    October 13, 2017

    Hundreds of friends, family members, and colleagues of Law School professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. celebrated his lifetime of legal work at an event announcing a professorship endowed in his honor earlier this month. Law School professor David B. Wilkins said the idea of endowing a Law School professorship in Ogletree’s honor came about during a discussion between some of Ogletree’s good friends, including Harvard Corporation members Kenneth I. Chenault and Ted V. Wells...Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a Law School professor and the current faculty director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute, also emphasized Ogletree's work regarding sexual harassment..."He also helped raise consciousness about the sexual harassment of working women—an enduring issue for women across a range of industries—through his representation of Professor Anita Hill,” Brown Nagin wrote in an email.

  • Charles Ogletree and family in audience

    ‘Tree’s’ tremendous legacy: Celebrating Charles Ogletree ’78

    October 11, 2017

    It took an all-star team of panelists to honor the scope and influence of Charles Ogletree’s career last week at HLS—eminent friends, students and colleagues all paying tribute to a man that the world knows as a leading force for racial equality and social justice, and that the Harvard community knows affectionately as Tree.

  • Honoring Charles Ogletree

    Honoring Charles Ogletree

    October 11, 2017

    Hundreds of friends, former students, colleagues, and well-wishers gathered last Monday in a joyful celebration of the life and career of Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, advocate for Civil Rights, author of books on race and justice, and mentor to former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

  • Honoring Charles Ogletree

    October 5, 2017

    It felt like a family reunion — with 600 relatives. That many friends, former students, colleagues, and well-wishers gathered Monday in a joyful celebration of the life and career of Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, advocate for Civil Rights, author of books on race and justice, and mentor to former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama...And when John Manning, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at HLS, announced that a group of Ogletree’s friends had established an endowed professorship in his honor, the Charles J. Ogletree Jr. Chair in Race and Criminal Justice, the news brought down the house...The chair was made possible through the generosity of a group of Ogletree’s close friends, said David Wilkins, Lester Kissel Professor of Law. “When the history of Harvard Law School in the 20th century is written, Charles Ogletree’s name will be among the first ones mentioned,” said Wilkins...The panelists told stories to “bring home the Tree-ness of Tree,” as Randall Kennedy, Michael R. Klein Professor of Law, explained...Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law, said, “Throughout his career, Ogletree has embodied law in the service of society, just the same as other great beacons of the American legal profession, men and women like Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, and Charles Hamilton Houston.”...Another frequent participant was Obama classmate Kenneth Mack ’91, the Lawrence D. Biele Professor of Law. Mack said he learned about Houston in a Saturday School class. It was a time, he added, when few people knew about the lawyer whom Ogletree deemed one of the 20th century’s greatest legal minds and Civil Rights lawyers.

  • Tomiko Brown-Nagin

    Brown-Nagin named faculty director of Charles Hamilton Houston Institute

    April 21, 2017

    Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow has appointed Professor Tomiko Brown-Nagin to be the faculty director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice (CHHI) at HLS.