The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York hosted a Black History Month event in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday.
A highlight of the event included U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch presenting former Mayor David Dinkins with the 2015 Trailblazer Award.
“There was a time in this city of ours when people held the view that not only would we never see a black president, but we would also never see an African-American mayor, and yet 25 years ago, one emerged,” Lynch said at the “A Century of Black Life, History and Culture” event.
“It was a day that we all knew that was transformative. It was a day that New York City acknowledged the contribution, the leadership, the spirit, the energy, of not just the African-American population, but specifically its newest mayor, the Marine, the lawyer, the teacher, the leader, the trailblazer — and it is that man who we honor today.”
However, the lively event, that included a musical performance by students of P.S. 22 in Staten Island as well as a dance performance from kids at the Brooklyn Friends School, quickly turned from one celebrating the past 100 years to one celebrating the morning’s news that President Obama’s nomination of Lynch as attorney general had been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The event started with Tanya Hill, who referred to the last 100 years of African-American history as a transformative century. Hill said that history is still being made because Lynch is not only the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, but it looks like she is going to actually hold the title.
Artist Danny Simmons called her the attorney general and said it was an honor just being in the same room with her, even though Lynch still needs to be officially approved by the entire Senate.
“A big smile came over my face when I heard the news,” Simmons said. “Being with her here today and David Dinkins is really an honor. To be with the next attorney general made me smile. I didn’t know that she would be here officiating, and when I found out I just felt special.”
In his speech, Dinkins discussed the many essential figures of American black history, most of whom he had a personal relationship with. All of his stories eventually came back to Lynch, though.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Dinkins said of his reaction to the news. “I was happy to hear that it had been done. I didn’t anticipate that it would be otherwise. She is so accomplished and prepared for the job that there never was any doubt.”
Dinkins added that the country still has a ways to go to reach true equality, but noted that the morning’s significant news is yet another sign that times have changed.
“I think about what [Lynch] has done and I remember what somebody asked Bobby Kennedy, ‘How do you get to be the attorney general of the United States,’ and he said, ‘Well, having a brother that is president helps,’” Dinkins said. “That’s true. Well, having a black man that is president helps too. Think how far we’ve come.”