Dr. Charles Ogletree will deliver the commencement address during Claflin University’s 144th Commencement Convocation at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Seventh-day Adventist Worship and Convention Center on 514 Neeses Highway in Orangeburg.
Ogletree is the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and founding and executive director of Harvard’s 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 that focuses on a variety of issues relating to race and justice.
At the ceremony, University officials will award bachelor’s degrees to the Class of 2014 and confer graduate degrees in biotechnology and business administration. Joining the program participants this year are two prominent civil rights leaders, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and Rep. Andrew Young, also a pastor, who will deliver the invocation and benediction. Lowery and Young have relatives in the graduating class. The Golden Class of 1964 will celebrate its 50th reunion, as well.
A complete list of commencement-related activities and events is available online at www.claflin.edu.
Ogletree is a prominent legal theorist who has earned 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. He 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. He furthers dialogue by insisting that the justice system protect rights guaranteed to those citizens by law.
Ogletree’s most recent book is The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America, which draws on the 2009 mistaken arrest of Gates to explore issues of race and what must be done to create a more just legal system. His other titles include When Law Fails, which contains 10 original essays; From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America, which he co-edited with Professor Austin Sarat of Amherst College; Brown at 50: The Unfinished Legacy, which he co-authored with Professor Deborah Rhode of Stanford University to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education; and All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education, his historical memoir that has received favorable reviews from such distinguished scholars as Skip Gates, David Levering Lewis, Alan Dershowitz, John Hope Franklin and Anita Hill.
Ogletree has served as faculty director, associate dean and vice dean of the Harvard Law School Clinical Program. He 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.
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.