Kristen Clarke to Join Justice Department: “We Will Turn the Page on Hate”

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President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris took the stage on Thursday, Jan. 7 to name four new Justice Department nominees for their upcoming administration. Among them was Kristen Clarke, nominee for assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division, who delivered the following remarks:

“As a mom myself now, I see the future of America through the eyes of my son, and honestly, at times I am worried. Will he have full and equal access to the extraordinary opportunities of American life? Will he be able to embrace those opportunities in safety and dignity? Will all of America’s children?” Clarke said. “The clarion call of equal justice under law is what binds us together as a nation.”

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This would be Clarke’s second time serving in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, where she began her career prosecuting hate crimes, human trafficking and police misconduct, in addition to protecting Americans’ voting rights.

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Clarke also worked at the state level, in the New York State attorney general’s Civil Rights Bureau, to fight housing discrimination and high levels of incarceration. She worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund prior to assuming her current position as president and executive editor of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

In accepting her nomination, Clarke vowed to “turn the page on hate and closed the door on discrimination by enforcing our federal civil rights laws,” citing leaders like Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley as key influences. 

Biden praised Clarke as “one of the most distinguished civil rights attorneys in America,” noting her background as the daughter of Jamaican immigrants and a Brooklyn native.

“Now, she’ll return full circle to pursue the vital work where her career began. The Civil Rights division represents the moral center of the Department of Justice. And the heart of that fundamental American ideal that we’re all created equal and all deserve to be treated equally,” Biden said.

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Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a Ms. Fellow and former Editorial Intern. She recently graduated high school and is completing a gap year before attending Tufts University.