Kristen Clarke Becomes First Woman Of Color To Head DOJ Civil Rights Division

UNITED STATES - JULY 22: Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, testifies during the Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing titled 2020 General Election Preparation, in Russell Building on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Kristen Clarke Becomes First Woman Of Color To Head DOJ Civil Rights Division

She’s a longtime civil rights lawyer.

PUBLISHED ON : MAY 26, 2021 / 04:41 PM

Written by Paul Meara

Kristen Clarke is making history as she was confirmed on Tuesday (May 25) by the Senate to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, making her the first woman of color to formally serve in the position.

A longtime civil rights lawyer, Clarke earned the appointment after Democrats and Republicans fought over her record during confirmation. Contention largely stemmed from how she would seek to enforce civil rights laws and investigate police forces.

According to Yahoo News, Clarke’s confirmation vote was largely along party lines, approving her nomination by a 51-48 vote. Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to join all Democrats and Independents in voting to confirm the 46-year-old.

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The news of Clarke being confirmed has Democrats excited. They say Clarke's two-decade career as a civil rights attorney made her uniquely qualified to lead a unit that former Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. described as being the agency's "crown jewel." 

Clarke will now be in charge of an office that has more than 350 attorneys and will play a key role in the Biden administration's efforts to enforce civil rights and voting rights laws and to investigate rogue police forces. 

The vote came on the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, which sparked nationwide protests in the wake of the tragedy.

(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)


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