Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree has been appointed to head the American Bar Association’s Brown v. Board of Education Commisssion. The commission will host a series of events across the nation to recognize the 50-year anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The anniversary will be on May 17, 2004.

“Charles Ogletree has long been a leader in the effort to achieve racial equality in our country. He is also a great and inspiring teacher,” said Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law. “We are honored that the ABA has chosen him to chair its commission to educate the public about the history and continuing significance of Brown v. Board of Education.”

The commission will work with schools and community organizations across the nation to educate young people on the importance of the Brown decision and its legacy in American law and society. The first of a series of Dialogues on Brown v. Board of Education was held at the American Bar Association annual meeting on August 10 in San Francisco.

Ogletree, who will be publishing a book of his personal reflections on the 50th Anniversary of Brown entitled “All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education,” commented: “Brown v. Board of Education is perhaps the most important legal decision on race issues in the past century, and I look forward to informing a broader public of its significance. We hope to expose Brown‘s significance to a wider audience and to ensure that the next generation of children receive the quality of education that Brown sought to promote.”

In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson principle of “separate but equal” and ruled that segregated public schools were “inherently unequal.” The court later ordered that desegregation be conducted “with all deliberate speed.”

A poll released last week by the American Bar Association indicated that the vast majority of the American public believes that significant strides have been made toward eliminating discrimination in public education in the 50 years since the Brown decision. However, recent studies have indicated that segregation may actually be increasing in schools, as a growing number of students are learning in an environment that is predominantly single race.

A member of the Harvard Law School faculty since 1984, Ogletree is a frequent writer, researcher, commentator, and activist on racial issues. In recent years he has spearheaded a campaign for slavery reparations and has conducted extensive scholarly work on the relationship between race and power in the United States.

Ogletree currently serves as vice dean of the law school’s clinical programs and director of the Saturday School program.

Other members of the commission include Oliver Hill, one of the lawyers involved in the Brown case; Judge Damon Keith, a protege of Justice Thurgood Marshall; Martha Barnett, the first woman to be elected president of the American Bar Association; and Julius Chambers, the former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.