Some Life Lessons We Can Learn From Loretta Lynch

I love to learn! I have always loved to learn, and even now as I write this, I’m trying to decide what I want to conquer next—learning a new language or taking up guitar lessons. I went through the formal education system and thoroughly enjoyed myself. My teachers, the decorations on the classroom walls, and yes….I even enjoyed doing homework a lot of the time!   I am a bit of a nerd, and I own it. It has served me fairly well in both my educational and professional pursuits. I would argue that to be ever learning is to be ever growing.  We all know that the four walls of a classroom plastered with charts, graphs, letters of the alphabet, and colorful characters cannot be the only place where one absorbs transferable principals. We must understand what the world around us gives us through the people that have something to say—better yet—have something to show us.

Loretta Lynch

Loretta Lynch

The ABC’s and 123’s of life comprised of current events, our history, culture, relationships, and (these days) social media must also be studied, much like the pages of a textbook.  As a child, my grandparents would always remind me of the importance of  ‘getting my lesson’ when referring to my schoolwork. It is now that I appreciate ‘getting my lessons’ through those that have something worthwhile to contribute—not only to me, but also to my race and society. There is nothing better than taking in things that will mature and stimulate me—much like a child sitting Indian style on a rug listening to concepts and characters come alive. The way that every detail engulfs a pupil while waiting at the feet of the one entrusted with his or her impressionable mind, is how we all should behave when we glean anything from this history maker, in particular. With that, I introduce ‘Professor’ and ‘Teacher ‘Loretta Elizabeth Lynch, the 83rd United States Attorney General. Sworn in by Vice President, Joe Biden, and preceded by Eric Holder, Lynch took office on April 27, 2015. Lynch is clearly not a teacher by trade, but she has set an example that no filmstrip, book report, or field trip to the planetarium could ever accurately portray.  The story that she has been able to tell us is one of triumph and dignity.

President Barack Obama nominated Lynch on November 8, 2014.  The judiciary committee of the United States Senate confirmed her appointment on February 26, 2015. However, it was not until April 23, 2015 that she was actually confirmed. The political fight waged amongst Congress prior to her confirmation teaches us that whenever you find yourself about to achieve your highest goals, there will be opposition.  Many viewed the delay in her official confirmation as partisan political grandstanding, making her confirmation the subject of social media campaigns with hashtags saying #ConfirmLynch on twitter as well as facebook.  Lynch is only the second woman—after Janet Reno—to hold the position. Even more noteworthy, she is the first African American woman to be Attorney General.  Attorney General Lynch patiently waited for 171 days from the time of her nomination, to receive the position that President Obama deemed worthy of her career. The Honorable Loretta Lynch showed us that patience is a virtue. When she took office, her first official task was to brief the President on the situation in Baltimore concerning the death of Freddie Gray. She did this while almost simultaneously announcing that the Justice Department planned to spend approximately $20 million on programs equipping police with body cameras. The program was established to review police misconduct—one of the most volatile issues gripping communities around the country.

Likewise Loretta Lynch’s career has spanned over 25 years, starting as a litigation associate then going to a violent crime prosecutor. To even get to the point in your career where a sitting President thinks you are worth of such a role, means that your work will always speak for itself.  It is important to note that two Presidents—the current one and Former President Bill Clinton—have nominated Lynch to influential positions. You don’t get to be a U.S. Attorney or Attorney General by cutting professional corners—always do your best. We have seen Loretta Lynch keep her composure in tough situations. Her accomplishments, intelligence, integrity and political affiliations were the subject of intense formal committee hearings and challenges in the media. Through her confirmation proceedings, she advised that we are to keep cool when in the hot seat. It is said that a young, determined, Loretta Elizabeth Lynch turned down a scholarship to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because she wanted Harvard more. Through this anecdote, it is clear that she resolved to never settle for something that is not the true desire of your heart.  A few days ago, 3 contestants on Jeopardy could not (with her photo on the screen) identify Mrs. Lynch as the current Attorney General of the United States. Through that incident, Headmaster Lynch illustrates—indirectly—the most profound concept of all.   No matter how much good you do, no matter how impressive your achievements are, the people that you serve may never truly know who you are. They may never understand how your contributions to society make their world better.  Coincidently, it is also a reminder that civics and social studies must continue to be taught in schools! Lynch’s own family lineage could be the subject of a history project as Lynch’s mother picked cotton when she was a girl so her daughter would never have to. Senator Charles Schumer said that, “if ever there was an American Dream story, hers is it.”  At her senate confirmation hearing, our preceptor stated simply that she “believes in the promise of America, because [she is] the promise of America.”

There will be other Attorney Generals. However, there will likely not be another one that can so graciously bestow upon us these (and other) tenets of her tutelage.  As one of Loretta Lynch’s many students, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from her.

Image Credits: CERD
Yvonne Miller, Esq.
Yvonne Miller, Esq., is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina. She is an alumna of both the University of South Carolina and Western Michigan University Law School. Yvonne is a consultant residing in Washington, DC. She enjoys listening to music (especially when performed live); traveling; cooking; adorable puppies; and focusing on taking over the world.

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