8. Loretta Lynch: Leading by the Letter of the Law
Inspired by her parent’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and their passion for justice, Loretta Lynch left North Carolina in the early 1970s determined to make a difference in the world. As the 83rd Attorney General of the United States, she has also made history. She is the first African-American woman to hold the post, but Lynch has been a force to be reckoned with for decades.
Many New Yorkers may remember her as the prosecutor who got a conviction in the infamous case of police brutality against Abner Louima in 1997. In a city where the police routinely get away with abuse, even murder, Lynch was praised for employing an incisive legal strategy that sent Justin Volpe, the officer who beat and sodomized Louima, to jail.
In addition to her impressive career prosecuting cases involving narcotics, violent crimes, public corruption and civil rights, Lynch’s deep concern for protecting human rights extends beyond her professional life in the United States. As a private attorney, her pro bono activities included working for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations during the country’s 1994 genocide.
Her impressive resume shows that Lynch not only knows her way around the courtroom, but also excels at public service. She served as U. S attorney under Bill Clinton and held the same position in the Obama administration before he nominated her to replace outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
From the days when she left Greensboro to attend Harvard College and Harvard Law School, to her hard-won confirmation as Attorney General (Congress held up the vote for five months), Lynch is known for being highly professional and having the ability to hone in on tough legal issues in complex scenarios.
Her political and legal foes may be surprised that their formidable opponent greets them with a beautiful smile. If so, perhaps they are unaware that she was raised on the wisdom of her grandfather — the sharecropper and Baptist minister who used his church to hide black men who had no chance of a fair trial in the South. Her mom defied the limitations of gender to pursue her education while raising a family, and her dad did his civil rights organizing in the family room after church. It’s no wonder Lynch knows how to win. — Sheree Crute