March 21, 2019

Former attorney general speaks at Webster

Loretta Lynch encouraged Americans to raise the voices of all citizens.

Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch came to Webster on Monday to speak.  In her presentation “Empowering the Next Generation of Change Agents,” Lynch reminded the Webster audience of historic legal struggles people of color faced.

As Attorney General, she encouraged better relations between police forces and communities.

President Barack Obama appointed Lynch in 2015 as the first female African-American attorney general.

The former attorney general sat down with Webster students before her speech.  Lynch said the conversation gave her great hope.

Loretta Lynch worked as the 83rd attorney general from 2015 to 2017. Photo by Vanessa Jones.

“Their questions, their thoughts, their insights rival anything happening in Washington today,” Lynch said.

John Wallis, president of the college Democrats at Webster, introduced Lynch at her speech. Wallis emphasized the importance of political leaders, regardless of political party, to speak out for their constituents.

“It shows us that they are leading for us,” Wallis said. “They want to hear from us as students.”

When Wallis introduced Lynch, he said her commitment to civil rights can lead us to a better place.

Associate Dean of Students Colette Cummings, who supervises the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) offices, said she hoped Webster students realize the opportunities they have.

“Any influence I can have to help students make better decisions and get the broader spectrum of people who are already changing lives is a beautiful thing,” Cummings said.  “If students can see she did it, they can do it.”

While the Webster students gave hope to the former attorney general, she expressed that our fight for freedom goes back over centuries.

“What does it mean to be a citizen of this great country?” Lynch asked, citing the Dred Scott case of 1857.  “The question still stands today.”

Lynch related the case of Dred Scott to the Ferguson unrest of 2014.  She asked what she considers an essential question of democracy.

“What is it America has failed to hear?” Lynch asked the audience multiple times.

As Attorney General, Lynch worked to improve relations between police forces and the communities they served.  Lynch embarked on a nationwide community policing tour to institute systemic change in community policing. Lynch spent months speaking with former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani to improve New Yorker’s views of police departments and the department itself.

Lynch said there is no simple solution to the problems we face in law enforcement.  However, opening a dialogue allows both sides to hear each other’s concerns. Lynch said a discussion on the issues at hand gives both police and their communities the power to effect change.

“Sometimes we don’t always get to see the victory,” Lynch said.  “Sometimes, our task is to pick up the project so that others can be inspired to carry it across the finish line.”

Lynch said that the hardest part of her work as attorney general was encouraging people to listen to one another.

America has failed to hear the voices of private citizens, Attorney General Lynch concluded.  Americans must raise them and keep them up, she said.

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