Ogletree on Obama’s Nobel: “A Triumphant Moment in History”


I was surprised and pleased to learn that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

His humility and deference in receiving an award that has been presented to such luminaries as Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, among others, illustrates both his uncanny ability to focus not on awards but actual progress, and a commitment to work tirelessly to establish a safer and more collaborative world. His aspirations to close Guantanamo, negotiate peace in the Middle East, talk with leaders of other countries even when we have massive differences in priorities and objectives, demonstrates his firm commitment to continue working around the clock so that, in time, we will all see what the Nobel Prize committee saw in honoring him now. The expected criticism, because he is so new in office, also ignores the almost immediate transformation of global excitement concerning his election alone and it reinforces a global commitment to end all forms of conflict and unite in a collaborative effort to pursue world peace.

It is hard to imagine anyone else with such a broad and deep commitment, and the same Barack Obama who changed history here at Harvard Law School two decades ago by being elected the first African American to be the President of the Harvard Law Review, is committed to doing the same on the world stage. I applaud him and Michelle Obama ’88 for their commitment to public service. It is a triumphant moment in Harvard Law School’s history.

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. ’78 is the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at HLS and founder of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.

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