Renowned Harvard law professor discloses Alzheimer’s diagnosis at A.M.E. conference
7/15/2016, 9:56 a.m.
By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
A Harvard law professor who taught both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama told fellow members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church that his faith is helping him cope with a personal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
“I’ve made up my mind to be thankful for what I have rather than focus on what I may lose,” an emotional Charles Ogletree said in his bicentennial message at a banquet where, on July 6, 3,000 people kicked off the 50th quadrennial General Conference of the denomination in Philadelphia.
“Nothing but the grace of God and faith enables me to respond this way.”
Mr. Ogletree, 63, said he was recently diagnosed by a neurologist.
“It was something I had not anticipated and I didn’t know how to respond to it,” he said. “I never imagined that things like my health would slow me down in such a dramatic way. It was, I must admit, a blessing.”
Mr. Ogletree commended A.M.E. officials for promoting well-being during the conference July 5 through 13 by including morning walks and luncheons focused on health topics. He said he has learned that more than 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease and that number is increasing.
“Studies show that African-Americans are almost twice as likely as whites to develop the disease,” he said. “But, praise God, I made up my mind to be grateful despite the illness.”
A native of California, the well-known lawyer earned both his undergraduate and master’s degrees in political science from Stanford University before receiving his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1978.
He is the Jesse Climenko Professor at Harvard Law School and the founder of the school’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. He also has authored numerous books on legal topics.