In remarks at the Justice Department on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that black history is American history and that much remains to be done to advance civil rights.
“During Black History Month, we honor the experience and the achievements of black Americans throughout our history,” he said. “But this month is not only a celebration for African Americans. It’s a celebration for America. Black history is American history, a key thread in the fabric of our country.”
“The history of America is the story of this nation’s efforts, as flawed as we’ve been and are, to fully live out these founding ideals and make them a reality for all our people,” he added.
Then he discussed racial discrimination he saw growing up in Alabama, and praised Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act.
“More than any other department, our department was at the forefront of that revolution,” he said.
Sessions promised that the Justice Department will continue protecting civil rights.
“We are especially proud today of our thousands of gifted African American employees, who help carry out that mission every day,” he added.
Sessions delivered the remarks at the Justice Department before the screening of the documentary “Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys.”
Yesterday, the Justice Department drew pointed criticism from civil rights and voting rights groups for reversing its position on Texas’s voter ID legislation. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department had joined litigation challenging the state’s law as a violation of voting rights that disproportionately impacted people of color. Sessions reversed that. And last week, he also reversed an Obama-era memo phasing out the Bureau of Prisons’ contracts with private prison companies––another move that has drawn pointed opprobrium from civil rights activists.