It was a moment of unbelievable risk, a precipice of career suicide, a decision that would challenge the careful planning of more timid lawyers. His wife urged caution; a Harvard colleague explored back channels with the Senate Judiciary Committee to telegraph warning to him of unseen torpedoes that might lie in his path. Even he hesitated in the face of the immediate demands of the substantial scholarly writing required to earn tenure at Harvard. Yet, at the end of the day of October 10, 1991, Charles Ogletree, Jr., known as "Tree" to his friends, chose to step into a role for which he is now most remembered: counsel to Professor Anita Hill during her testimony about Judge Clarence Thomas's inappropriate sexual behavior when she worked for him as a government lawyer. It was a defining choice that made visible to the world the deep character traits that have made Tree a well-loved and respected figure in the legal academy, a fixture on the front lines of the legal fight for racial equality. This Essay is a personal reflection on the character traits and public commitments to racial equality that I have observed since I first learned who Charles Ogletree was.
22 Harv. Blackletter L.J. 121-126 (2006)
Scholarly Commons Citation
Jordan, Emma Coleman, ""Just Like a Tree Planted by the Waters, I Shall Not Be Moved": Charles Ogletree, Jr., and the Plain Virtues of Lawyering for Racial Equality" (2006). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 103.