Commentary

Hearings start today on Attorney General nominee raised in NC

Loretta LynchThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will commence the vetting process for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch this morning. This ought to be a proud moment for North Carolinians as Lynch would be the first native of our state to serve in the position. She grew up here and her immediate family still lives in the state.

Unfortunately, at this point, we don’t even know what action North Carolina’s two senators (including Senator Tillis, who serves on the Judiciary Committee) will take on the nomination. Let’s hope they do the right thing. Contact information for Tillis is available here.

Here is some additional information about Lynch and her ties to North Carolina compiled by the good folks at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The more you read, the more impressed you will be:

Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch Has Extensive Ties to North Carolina

  • Loretta Lynch, the nominee for Attorney General of the United States, is a North Carolina native whose immediate family still lives in the State. Lynch’s experiences growing up in North Carolina during the civil rights movement helped shaped her strong sense of fairness and justice on which she has relied throughout her extraordinary legal career. North Carolinians are extremely proud of her nomination and are eager to see her quickly confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
  • On November 8, President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to be the 83nd Attorney General of the United States. President Obama described Lynch as “tough, fair and independent.” The Attorney General is considered the nation’s top law enforcement official.
  • Lynch would be the first African American woman to hold the position. Only one other African American, Eric H. Holder, Jr., and one other woman, Janet Reno, have held the office.
  • Importantly for North Carolina, Loretta Lynch would be the first North Carolina native ever to serve as Attorney General in the history of this country.
  • Loretta Lynch currently serves as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, one of the most prominent U.S. attorney offices in the country. As the lead federal prosecutor for Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, she has prosecuted terrorists, mobsters, drug lords, gang members, corrupt politicians and sexual harassers. She was on the team which convicted police officers for abusing Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by beating and sexually assaulting him with a broomstick. Lynch also served as U.S. Attorney for the same district under President Bill Clinton. She has been confirmed unanimously by the Senate twice.
  • Loretta Lynch was born in Greensboro on May 21, 1959. Her mother, Lorine Lynch, is from Whitakers, near Rocky Mount. Mrs. Lynch was a school librarian who picked cotton as a young girl. At her investiture to become U.S. Attorney, Loretta Lynch recalled once asking her mother why she had worked in the fields; her mother responded, “So you wouldn’t have to.”
  • Lynch’s father is Reverend Lorenzo Lynch Sr., a fourth-generation Baptist minister and native of Oak City. In Greensboro, where Loretta Lynch was born, Reverend Lynch was the pastor at the Providence Baptist Church. When Lynch was six years old, the family moved to Durham. Reverend Lynch served as pastor of the White Rock Baptist Church in Durham for 27 years. Now retired, he lives with his wife in Durham. Lynch’s older brother, Lorenzo Lynch, Jr., was a Navy SEAL and is now deceased. Her younger brother, Dr. Leonzo D. Lynch, has been pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Charlotte since 1997; he also serves as vice-president at large of the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
  • The Lynch family is well-known in North Carolina. In the 1970s, Reverend Lynch ran, albeit unsuccessfully, for mayor of Durham. Henry Frye, the first African-American Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is a friend of the family who says that Loretta Lynch has “an excellent background.” The Raleigh News Observer called Loretta Lynch a “strong choice” in an editorial, stating: “North Carolina has a special interest in President Obama’s nominee to succeed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Loretta Lynch was born in Greensboro and grew up in Durham, where her father was minister.”
  • Loretta Lynch attended Durham High School. She was an outstanding student and belonged to an honor society, the Beta Club. Lynch was a valedictorian for the Class of 1977. She received a full scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but decided to enroll in Harvard University.
  • At Harvard, Lynch majored in English and American Literature and graduated with an A.B., cum laude, in 1981. She obtained her law degree from Harvard Law School in 1984. Upon graduation, she went to work for a Wall Street law firm until joining the Justice Department in 1990.
  • Growing up in North Carolina during the 1960s gave Loretta Lynch a front row seat to the civil rights struggle. Shortly after Lynch was born, North Carolina A&T students began organizing lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, which became one of the most significant events of the civil rights movement. Much of the planning for the sit-ins took place at Reverend Lynch’s Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro. As a toddler, Lynch rode on her father’s shoulders to the organizing meetings. In a “Native Daughter” editorial, the Greensboro News & Record wrote: “Although [Lynch] lived in Greensboro for only the first six years of her life, that time had an important influence on her. We should be proud to claim the next attorney general of the United States as a native daughter.”
  • Lynch was deeply affected by the heroism of her grandfather, a North Carolina sharecropper. As President Obama recounted in announcing Lynch’s appointment, her grandfather “helped folks in his community who got in trouble with the law and had no recourse under the Jim Crow system.”
  • Loretta Lynch was born five years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. For most of Lynch’s childhood, public schools in North Carolina were still struggling to meet their obligations under Brown. Durham High School, which Lynch attended, was the first public school to be integrated in Durham, in 1959. However, it was not until the 1970s that Durham’s schools were substantially integrated. As a student during this time, Lynch encountered discrimination on a personal level. According to her parents, when Lynch obtained an extremely high score on a standardized test at a mostly white elementary school, school officials believed her score was in error and forced her to retake the test; her second score was higher than the first. Later, when she finished at the top of her class at Durham High School, school officials forced her to share with the valedictorian honor with other students, including white students.
  • At the time of Lynch’s appointment, North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield, who represents the First Congressional District, issued the following statement: “I could not be more pleased that President Obama nominated North Carolina native, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to serve as our nation’s next Attorney General. Her decades of experience as a prosecutor and in private practice make her ideally suited to lead the Justice Department and the nation in this capacity. I look forward to the Senate’s swift confirmation of U.S. Attorney Lynch, and I commend the President on this historic nomination.”

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