2008 Commencement

Honorary Degree Citation
Charles Ogletree
May 25, 2008

Charles Ogletree, Mount Holyoke College is honored to recognize your many contributions to law, social justice, and civil rights.

After receiving undergraduate and master's degrees from Stanford University, where you were Phi Beta Kappa, you went on to earn your law degree from Harvard. You then became a staff attorney in the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, an organization dedicated to providing quality legal representation to indigent adults and children. By the time you left the service for private practice, you were deputy director, and you had also begun teaching law on the side. You have played the dual roles of professor and practitioner of law throughout your career, which may account for your excellence in both: your teaching is grounded in the realities of modern jurisprudence while your practice of law is informed by your sophisticated grasp of legal theory.

Nonetheless, you have not been content to confine yourself to the courtroom or the classroom. You have pursued a larger agenda, and that is to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution are applied equally to all citizens. This mission transcends professional boundaries, and you, accordingly, have ventured down every avenue available to advance it. You write extensively, not just in law journals but in books and print media, and you appear regularly on national television. You are the cochair of the Reparations Coordinating Committee, and you advise numerous organizations and educational institutions, including the Benjamin Benneker Charter School, which you helped found. You were legal counsel to Anita Hill during Justice Clarence Thomas's Senate confirmation hearings. Your broad influence and your tireless advocacy for equal treatment under the law have earned you numerous honors, including the National Bar Association's Equal Justice Award in 2002 and a place on Savoy Magazine's 100 Most Influential Blacks in America list.

Whether working in the nonprofit world, private practice, or academia, your commitment to equal rights and social justice has never wavered. For all that you have done to make justice possible, it is a privilege and honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Law, honoris causa.

The text of Charles Ogletree's address is not available at this time.

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