Charles J. Ogletree

Charles J. Ogletree

Legal Theorist / Mentor / Activist

Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and Vice Dean for the Clinical Programs, is a prominent legal theorist who has made an international reputation by taking a hard look at complex issues of law and by working to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution for everyone equally under the law. Ogletree has examined these issues not only in the classroom, on the Internet, and in the pages of prestigious law journals, but also in the everyday world of the public defender in the courtroom and in public television forums where these issues can be dramatically revealed. Ogletree’s latest academic endeavor at Harvard Law School is the newly opened the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.

Ogletree is the author of All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education, published in April of 2004. Ogletree was also appointed director of Harvard Law School’s new Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, named in honor of the visionary lawyer who spearheaded the litigation in Brown v. Board of Education. He co-authored the award-winning book, Beyond the Rodney King Story: An Investigation of Police Conduct in Minority Communities, and frequently contributes to many journals and law reviews. He has written chapters in several books, including “If You Buy the Hat, He Will Come,” in Faith of Our Fathers: African American Men Reflect on Fatherhood and “The Tireless Warrior for Racial Justice,” in Reason & Passion: Justice Brennan’s Enduring Influence, and “Privileges and Immunities for Basketball Stars and Other Sport Heroes?” appears in Basketball Jones. In addition, Ogletree’s commentaries on a broad range of timely and important issues have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe, among many.

Ogletree also serves as the Co-Chair of the Reparations Coordinating Committee, a group of lawyers and other experts researching a lawsuit based upon a claim of reparations for descendants of African slaves, along with Randall Robinson, author of The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks.

In addition to his strong academic focus, Ogletree’s national media experience and exposure is considerable in its scope. He moderated the nationally-televised forums, State of the Black Union and Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community and also as the moderator of four the seminal ten-part series, Ethics in America on PBS. Since 1990, he has moderated dozens of programs, including Hard Drugs, Hard Choices, Liberty & Limits: Whose Law, Whose Order? and Credibility in the Newsroom. He has also appeared as a guest commentator on Nightline, This Week with David Brinkley, McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, Crossfire, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Cochran & Company, Burden of Proof, and Meet the Press as well as other national and local television and radio programs. He served as NBC legal commentator on the O.J. Simpson case.

In 2005, Ogletree was honored with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award for National Service, and presented with the Morehouse College Candle in the Dark Award in Education and Law. He also received the City University of New York Public Interest Law Association Lifetime Achievement Award in Public Interest Law. In 2004, the Clio Exchange presented him with the Carter G. Woodson History Maker Living Legend Award. He received the A. Leon Higginbotham Lawyer of the Year Award from the National Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. In 2003, he was selected by Savoy Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Blacks in America, and by Black Enterprise Magazine, along with Thurgood Marshall, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., and Constance Baker Motley, as “one of the legal legends among America’s top black lawyers.” In 2002, he received the National Bar Association’s prestigious Equal Justice Award. In 2001, he joined a list of distinguished jurists, including former Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan, and civil rights lawyers Elaine Jones and Oliver Hill, when he received the prestigious Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit from the Washington Bar Association.

Ogletree earned an MA and BA (with distinction) in Political Science from Stanford University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He also holds a JD from Harvard Law School where he served as Special Projects Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights – Civil Liberties Law Review.

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