President's remarks at Black Lives Matter talk by Charles Ogletree

November 12, 2015

Professor Ogletree’s visit to the University of Oregon could not be more timely. Our nation today is engaging in serious soul-searching over issues of racial equity. It is about time. For too long, we have allowed ourselves to live as two nations—a world of class divisions, of racial divisions, reflected in where we live, what we earn, and how we are educated.

One only had to watch the scenes of pain in Missouri this year to have one’s heartbroken.

As a great university we must confront these issues in a thoughtful and honest way. Our university—both our students and our faculty-- is not as diverse as we should be. This absence of diversity is exacerbated by a sense of isolation and despair among many of our students of color. We must work hard to enhance our diversity and we must work equally hard to create a supportive, inclusive environment.

I am delighted that Professor Ogletree is here today. I first met Charles 16 years ago as a visiting professor of law at Harvard. Then as now, he was been a leading voice in my profession for racial equity and understanding. He has also been a mentor to a generation of lawyers.

And now for the formal introduction: Charles Ogletree is the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he also directs the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. He has written extensively on race and justice, his most recent book being Punishment in Popular Culture which he co-edited with Austin Sarat. Among his many honors and awards, Ogletree has been named by Ebony Magazine as one of the 100+ Most Influential Black Americans every year since 2006. 

I am honored to introduce Charles Ogltree.