Angela Oh to be Occidental Commencement Speaker
Angela Oh, Los Angeles attorney, civil rights activist and one of the country’s leading commentators on race relations, will be the commencement speaker at Occidental College’s May 20 graduation ceremony.
Oh, a successful criminal defense attorney who first rose to national prominence in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, will be presented with an honorary degree at the 3 p.m. ceremony in the Remsen Bird Hillside Theater on the Occidental campus.
When racial tensions exploded in Los Angeles in the wake of the verdict in the first Rodney King trial, Oh’s eloquent appearance on ABC’s “Nightline” as an impromptu spokesperson for the city’s Korean-American community catapulted her into the spotlight.
She quickly was recruited to serve as staff counsel for a state Assembly committee investigating the riots, was appointed to the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and in 1997 was selected to serve on President Clinton’s seven-member Advisory Board to the President’s Initiative on Race.
After 12 years as a successful trial attorney in state and federal courts, Oh recently left her law practice “to continue the conversation I began with the President’s Initiative on Race,” as she put it. “I knew that this conversation is going to become more complex.”
Since then, she has spoken around the country on the issue of race relations, most recently teaching at UCLA and serving as a UC Irvine Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow. She is a contributor to the recent books “Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters” and “Transforming Race Relations” and is regular contributor to on-line magazines, including imdiversity.com and AsianAvenue.com.
A graduate of UCLA, where she also received a master’s degree in public health, Oh received her law degree from UC Davis. She has served as a trustee with the Asian Pacific American Women's Leadership Institute, president of the Korean American Bar Association of Southern California, a board member of California Women's Law Center and of the Western Justice Center Foundation, and co-chair of Asian Pacific Americans for a New Los Angeles.