Born in the town of Merced, California, his parents ingrained in him a passion for education, leading to his entrance to Stanford University where began his efforts in activism.
“Tree,” a nickname used by his friends, used his intelligence and platform to enact change for racial equity in global affairs. Notably, Ogletree aided in revising South Africa’s constitution after the dismantling of apartheid, according to NPR.
He also was a trusted advisor and confidante of former President Barack Obama, who was taught under Ogletree while pursuing his own law degree at Harvard.
“He helps lift up voices that have been forgotten and have been lost, and that’s been his life’s work,” shared Obama about his “true friend.”
His dedication to standing up for others also led him to represent Anita Hill in her claims of sexual harassment against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. His other work as well extended to supporting Tupac Shakur and Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Ogletree was influenced by BLACK ENTERPRISE, founder Earl G. Graves, and sang Graves’ praises as a “giant in business” at BE town hall.
Upon his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, the legal scholar turned the unfortunate circumstance into one of awareness for Black individuals who are disproportionately impacted by the disease.
An advocate through every stage of life, he still remained a face in equal rights uplift-ment through accepting awards to share stories of hope as his health lessened,
“I want to be remembered not for awards … but really remembered for somebody who was lifted up by others who saw there was some hope in me. … That’s what life is all about.”
An author, activist, and overall trailblazer for equality across all groups, Ogletree is a testimony to a continued faith in oneself and the power of seeking justice for marginalized people.
“I think Tree will go down in history as a champion of justice,” expressed Dennis Sweet, who developed a longstanding friendship with Ogletree after meeting as public defenders. “He’s going to have one heck of a legacy.”
Source: Black Enterprise