Ogletree’s bestselling 2004 book “All Deliberate Speed” contains four sentences that are nearly identical to those found in Roy L. Brooks’s “Integration or Separation?: A Strategy for Racial Equality”—published eight years prior.
The most similar of the sentences appears on page 103 of the paperback copy of Ogletree’s book.
Ogletree writes: “These tenets became the basis of the Niagara movement, founded by a small group of African-American intellectuals critical of Washington; it in turn spawned the NAACP in 1910.”
Brooks writes on page 129 of his book: “These tenets would become the foundation of the Niagara Movement, founded by a small group of African American intellectuals critical of Washington; it would in turn spawn the NAACP in 1910.”
Ogletree did not respond to calls placed late last night to both his cell phone and Cambridge home, or to an e-mail requesting comment. Brooks did not return an e-mail or call requesting comment late last night.
The Crimson received an anonymous e-mail tip last night detailing the similarities between the books.
The four sentences in Ogletree and Brooks’ books appear in the same order. In Ogletree’s book, they are together in one paragraph, but in Brooks', they are spread over two pages.
On page 103 of his book, Ogletree— referring to civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois, Class of 1890—writes: “His demands included freedom of speech, education, ‘manhood suffrage,’ and the ‘abolition of all caste distinctions based simply on race and color.’”
On page 129 of his book, Brooks writes: “During most of his career Du Bois presented himself as a staunch integrationist and demanded freedom of speech, education, ‘manhood suffrage,’ and ‘the abolition of all caste distinctions based simply on race and color.’”
That similarity is striking because both Brooks and Ogletree quote Du Bois out of order. In his 1905 Niagara Movement address, Du Bois mentioned free speech first, education sixth, “manhood suffrage” third, and “caste distinctions” fourth.
In another parallel, on page 103 of his book, Ogletree writes: “Du Bois implored African-Americans to make choices that benefited their community, such as supporting African American merchants.”
On page 130 of his book, Brooks—paraphrasing Du Bois—writes: “African Americans must make choices that are beneficial to their community, such as supporting African American merchants.”
Brooks, on page 130, and Ogletree, on page 103, use the same 12 words to compare Du Bois and black educator Booker T. Washington: “both men were deeply committed to making life better for African Americans.” (Ogletree hyphenates “African-Americans.”)
Ogletree does not cite these passages to Brooks, though he does mention Brooks' "Integreation or Separation?" on page 308, a full 200 pages after the discussion of Du Bois and Washington. In this instance, Ogletree mentions Brooks both in the text of "All Deliberate Speed" and in a citation.
The extent of the overlap between Ogletree and Brooks is significantly less than the parallel between Ogletree’s book and Yale law professor Jack M. Balkin’s 2001 collection of essays, “What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said.”
In 2004, Ogletree acknowledged “serious errors” in “All Deliberate Speed” after it came to light that two pages of text had been copied from Balkin’s book.
In that case, Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan asked two former Law School deans—Derek C. Bok, who had not yet returned to the Harvard presidency, and Robert C. Clark—to launch an investigation into the matter.
In September 2004, the two reported their findings to Kagan, who called the matter “a serious scholarly transgression.” The school has never said if it punished Ogletree.
—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at pbhayani@Qfas.harvard.edu.