Renowned Law Professor and Civil Rights Scholar Charles J. Ogletree Jr. Passes Away at 70
In a heartbreaking news for the academic and civil rights communities, Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a distinguished law professor and civil rights scholar, has passed away at the age of 70 after a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The news of his passing has left many mourning the loss of an extraordinary individual who dedicated his life to fighting for justice and equality.
Ogletree, who had a highly successful career at Harvard Law School, is best known for teaching and mentoring eminent figures such as former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. With his wealth of knowledge and passion for justice, he guided and inspired countless students throughout his tenure.
His impact extended beyond the classroom, as he represented notable figures in high-profile cases. Amongst them was Anita Hill, who he represented during Clarence Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearings in 1991. Additionally, he provided legal counsel for the late rapper Tupac Shakur in an array of criminal and civil cases.
Ogletree consistently advocated for reparations for the survivors of Tulsa’s 1921 white supremacist massacre, yet unfortunately, his efforts were met with obstacles and remained unsuccessful. However, throughout his career, he exemplified humility and always attributed his success to the support and collaboration of others.
Originating from a background of poverty in Merced, California, Ogletree overcame immense challenges, including working in the fields, to pursue his education. He attended Stanford University for his undergraduate studies before later matriculating at Harvard Law School.
Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning expressed deep admiration for Ogletree’s tireless commitment to civil rights, equality, and social justice. Manning highlighted Ogletree’s unwavering pursuit of a fairer society and how he had become a role model for countless individuals striving to make a difference.
In 2016, Ogletree courageously shared his battle with Alzheimer’s disease, announcing his diagnosis to the public. Despite facing this tremendous personal challenge, he continued to make substantial contributions to the field until his retirement from Harvard Law School in 2020.
His legacy was further honored earlier this year when the Merced County courthouse was named after him, a tribute to his significant impact on both local and national levels.
Charles J. Ogletree Jr. is survived by his loving wife, Pamela Barnes, his two children, and four adoring grandchildren. As news of his passing spreads, tributes pour in from all corners of the country, reflecting the immeasurable impact he had on generations of scholars and activists alike. His memory will forever endure as a symbol of resilience, inspiration, and a relentless pursuit of justice.