President Barack Obama spent about an hour over the weekend at a Martha's Vineyard reception organized by Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree Jr., a longtime friend of Obama and his wife, Michelle.
The visit came on Saturday night, according to reports from the media pool that’s following the president’s vacation. Reporters weren’t allowed in, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest described it as an “informal reception” organized by Ogletree and attended by about 100 people.
Ogletree’s relationship with the Obamas dates back two decades. He’s been described as Barack Obama’s mentor, and The National Law Journal reported in 2008 that he also knew Michelle Obama when she was a student at Harvard Law. D.C. lawyers have occasionally mentioned Ogletree as a possible Obama nominee, either for an appellate judgeship or a position in the Department of Justice.
According to the media pool, the reception took place in an otherwise quiet neighborhood of shingled cottages in Oak Bluffs, on the north side of Martha’s Vineyard. Apparently anticipating the president’s arrival, crowds had gathered to try to take photographs. One group had set up a sign that said, “Welcome Mr. President to Alpine Street,” and as the president left, several people waved large American flags.
Obama was there for just over an hour before returning to the house where he and his family are staying. It’s not clear whether Michelle Obama also attended the reception. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett was there.
On Aug. 17, Ogletree hosted a panel discussion about race at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center, according to the Vineyard Gazette. Anita Hill, whom Ogletree represented during the 1991 confirmation process of Justice Clarence Thomas, and who recently became of counsel at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, was among those on the panel.
Ogletree is a former deputy director of the D.C. Public Defender Service. Last month, he was in U.S. District Court in Washington representing New York publisher and philanthropist Karl Rodney, who had pleaded guilty to a charge of misleading congressional staff.