Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on May 20.
Loretta Lynch made history on April 27, 2015, when she became the first African American woman to be sworn in as attorney general of the United States. As the new head of the Department of Justice, Lynch is now the chief lawyer and top law enforcement official in the country. Her duties include enforcing federal laws, heading federal jails and penal institutions, and giving legal advice and opinions to President Barack Obama as part of his Cabinet.
Lynch’s interest in law and justice was encouraged early in her childhood. Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, she was inspired by stories of her grandfather, who helped African Americans escape punishment under Jim Crow laws. These were laws that enforced segregation in the southern states. Lynch was also inspired by her father, a minister who held civil rights meetings at his church. He sometimes took Loretta to watch court cases at a local courthouse.
As she grew up, Lynch’s parents and two brothers strongly encouraged her to succeed in everything she chose to do. She did well in school, graduating at the top of her high school class. She went on to attend Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Before becoming attorney general, Lynch served twice as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York under Presidents Clinton and Obama. As U.S. attorney, Lynch oversaw federal prosecution of hundreds of cases. Lynch is now the second woman to serve as U.S. attorney general.
The Senate confirmation vote came more than five months after Lynch’s nomination by President Obama in November 2014. The long delay between her nomination and confirmation was due to political conflicts between Democrats and Republicans. Now that Lynch is in office, her immediate priorities include increasing cybersecurity, combatting foreign terrorism, and helping communities rebuild trust in our nation’s laws and law enforcers. Her long-term vision as attorney general is to use the power of the law to make the ideals of justice, liberty, and equality a reality for all Americans.