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Loretta Elizabeth Lynch was appointed as the 83rd US Attorney General in 2015, being the first black women to hold this position, but before we celebrate this Woman Making History, let’s take it back to where she started in law.
Lynch was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1959 to fourth-generation Baptist minister and a school librarian, Lorenzo and Lorine Lynch, and was inspired by her grandfather, who was a sharecropper in the 1930s helping those affected by Jim Crow.
She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1984 and immediately went into litigation work at a New York law firm. Keeping her career New York-focused, she worked in the US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, which covers Queens, Kings (Brooklyn), Richmond (Staten Island), Nassau, and Suffolk counties. During this time, she served on the trial team for the prosecution and conviction of NYPD officers charged for violating the civil rights of a Haitian immigrant in 1999.
In terms of government work, she was appointed by both President Clinton and President Obama to serve as the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1999 and 2010, respectively. Not only this, she led the civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner. In 2017, shortly before leaving office, she announced that the Chicago Police Department would be cooperating with the Justice Department on reforms after the investigation had concluded into the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Lynch’s other prosecution work including taking down mobsters, drug dealers and terrorists.
But her career isn’t without controversy. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Lynch meets with former president Clinton while the FBI was investigating Hillary for the use of a private email server to exchange and store classified documents and other information. The former FBI director James Comey admitted that he felt Lynch’s meeting with former President Clinton had compromised the investigation.