Congress Confirms First African American Woman as U.S. Attorney General

After a five-month-long, stalled nomination, Congress confirms President Obama’s nomination for U.S. Attorney General, making Loretta Lynch the first female African American to head the Justice Department.

Loretta Lynch
Loretta Lynch

Growing up in Greensboro, N.C. — where her parents could not legally vote and her grandparents were sharecroppers — Lynch was interested in law and order from a young age, attending court proceedings and civil rights rallies with her father.

Despite coming from a disenfranchised background, Lynch graduated high school as valedictorian of her class, earned a bachelor’s degree in English and American literature from Harvard College, and in 1984, earned a law degree from Harvard Law School.

Lynch most recently served as U.S. Attorney General for the Eastern District of New York, an area with a population of about 8 million people. In this position, she prosecuted terrorists and tax-evading politicians.

The 55-year-old’s nomination stalled because some in the House and Senate opposed her support for President Obama’s executive order on immigration. Her confirmation had also been postponed while Congress settled a dispute over language in a human-trafficking bill, which was resolved earlier this week.

Lynch succeeds Eric Holder, who was the first African American to serve as Attorney General.