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The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America 1st Edition

23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0230103269
ISBN-10: 023010326X
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Editorial Reviews


“A great teacher is one who seizes on every great teaching moment to explain and educate. Charles Ogletree is such a teacher. He has seized on the very public arrest of Professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates to teach Americans important lessons about the Constitution, the continuing relevance of race in America and the ease with which an incident can escalate into a major event. Ogletree was there, knows all the participants and has written a brilliant book from which all Americans can learn. ” ―Alan Dershowitz, author of Trials of Zion

The Presumption of Guilt is both informative and instructive. Informative because it provides a very accurate description of the events of that day and instructive because it identifies the critical areas which must be addressed in order to prevent racial profiling and other disparities in the criminal justice system.” ―Ronald E. Hampton, Executive Director, National Black Police Association

“Charles Ogletree possesses one of the most brilliant legal minds in American culture and here he bridges the ivory tower academy and the messy world in a rare and unique manner. Don't miss this book.” ―Cornel West, Princeton University

“A bold and original analysis...reveals how the great reforms once promised by this landmark decision were systematically undermined.” ―Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on Ogletree's All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half Century of Brown vs. Board of Education

“A remarkable and very readable account of one young man's coming of age during the civil rights movement....A 'must read.'” ―John Hope Franklin, Professor of History Emeritus, Duke University, Author of From Slavery to Freedom on Ogletree's All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half Century of Brown vs. Board of Education

About the Author

Charles Ogletree is the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the founding and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at the law school. He is the author of four books on race and the law, including the critically acclaimed All Deliberate Speed, and has received numerous awards and honors, including being named one of the 100+ Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine. In the immediate aftermath of the Crowley-Gates incident, Ogletree acted not only as counsel to professor Gates but continues to be special counsel to President Obama and advisor on police behavior to both Harvard University and the City of Cambridge.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023010326X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230103269
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,418,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Stoneman on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a white American, I believe that Charles Ogletree's book, "The Presumption of Guilt" is a must read for all of us who have never experienced, and never will, what it is to be black in America, especially what it is to be a black man in America. It is a mind-opening revelation. We need to be reminded that our evolution from a highly oppressive society built partly on slavery and the inequality that was written into our original constitution, to a fully free nation of equal opportunity, responsibility, and safety for all, is not over. Yes, it has changed radically for the better. Now the problem is more subtle; it is below the radar much of the time, or largely obscured by class differences. But in fact, the rooting out of various assumptions, presumptions, and vast differences in the treatment of blacks and whites by the criminal justice system and other systems, is a challenge that still lies before us and that needs white as well as black awareness and support.

As an activist in the Civil Rights generation, I lived in Harlem for 24 years, and I now lead a national program designed to provide opportunity for young people who were born poor and have dropped off the opportunity ladder. I am reasonably familiar with their struggles. The presumption of guilt that follows the low-income young men of color is consistently damaging and sometimes life-threatening.

I was less familiar with the struggles of the highly successful African American men who gave 100 examples of unexpected mistreatment to illustrate the "The Presumption of Guilt." These stories were excellent reminders, important to keep all of us aware that we have a lot more work to do. The first step is to become cognizant of the reality from more points of view than our own.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. first became public, I felt the media and public in general had completely lost leave of their senses. Few were willing to step back and take a deep breath before jumping to conclusions. Demagogues and lunatic exclamations such as Glenn Beck's remarks about President Obama being racist against whites were carrying the day. A six-minute event came to highlight the large racial divide which still plagues our country. Speaking as a white man married to an white woman and father of two, adopted African-American sons, it was truly a disheartening moment. We live in Maine which is the whitest state in our country, yet, has a reputation of being very tolerant. This we've found to be true. There are many people in our community who have been extremely supportive of our family dynamic and, yet, our two now-teenage sons have been at the receiving end of racist stereotypes. Some of them based on ignorance and others likely because the people were flaming A-holes.

Mr. Ogletree covers well-trodded ground showing examples and discussing racial profiling. As he so aptly puts, "Those who believe that we are in a post-racial environment are naive at best or racially insensitive at worst." The Henry Louis Gates Jr. incident is used as a launching pad for a more broader discussion about how black MEN are perceived in America. Despite the author being a close friend of Professor Gates as well as a faculty member of Harvard, Mr. Ogletree does not set his sights on tarnishing Sargent Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department. He shows the officer to be well-respected by both black and white men in blue. Instead, the author convincingly shows that electing an African-American president hasn't changed our perspective of racial stereotypes.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Smith on November 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am always surprised when blacks are "surprised" when they get pulled over. I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. The only black girl from K-12 in the public school.

I try to explain to my friends, other professionals in the DC area, who grew up in black middle class neighborhoods, that Mass. is a different species. No matter the additional letters, behind one's name, black is seen first. So it is not the police officers who need to change and be color blind. That may or may not happen. It is blacks, who have been blinded by class.

I knew from a very young age, that discrimination will come just as sure from the working class, as well as the educated. Growing up, my mother who used to work at a major hospital in Boston, used to tell me as a child about a black doctor, Ivy League trained. When this doctor would come in to see a patient, some patients would ask him to bring the bed pan,.

The majority of people from Mass. are working class, and the first time some of them may ever see a black person is when they come to Boston. So the mindset for some of these whites is that blacks are usually at the bottom. So it's hard for these "whites" to make that switch so fast, that this black man may be "somebody". Blacks from outside of Mass. think that the entire state is liberal and the bastion of education. The small city of Boston is the "bastion". The rest of the workforce comes from outside the city. Boston is really two cities, the students who come from other states, and those that grew up there.

There are blacks who grew up insulated, in a black middle class, or their family kept them among the "right" blacks (segregation within segregation).
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