stars of the game: the first african-american attorney general loretta lynch does vogue…

Loretta Lynch can trace her ancestry back at least five generations in North Carolina, and her family history bears the hallmarks of African-American struggle and resistance. Lynch’s great-great-grandfather, a free black man, fell in love with a slave and reentered bondage to marry her. He was first in a long family line of Baptist ministers. Her grandfather, a sharecropper, opened his church to hide black men wanted by the law. “They didn’t think they would get a fair deal in court,” says Lynch’s father, the Reverend Lorenzo Lynch. “Loretta grew up hearing that story, and I know it stuck in her mind.”

When Lynch and her two brothers were young, in the 1960s, their father held civil-rights meetings at home. He also ran (unsuccessfully) for mayor of Durham against a white candidate in 1973 on a platform of government reform. “My foundation from my family,” Lynch tells me, “was watching my father never back down from a fight locally. My dad felt that there should be an opposition candidate, that if he had that view and he really believed it, he should live up to it, which is how I came home from school one day to see the headline that my dad was running for mayor.”

“My foundation from my family,” says Lynch, pictured here with her parents, Lorenzo and Lorine Lynch, “was watching my father never back down from a fight locally.”
“My foundation from my family,” says Lynch, pictured here with her parents, Lorenzo and Lorine Lynch, “was watching my father never back down from a fight locally.”

Lynch and her brothers also watched their parents earn graduate degrees. “Their emphasis was that we live in a society with racism, that is clear, but your job is to better yourself,” said Leonzo Lynch, 53, the attorney general’s brother and the fifth minister in the family. “You got an education, you did your best, and that would lift you above society’s view of your color.” One summer, because the family owned only one car, her mother relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina, for several weeks, to finish the coursework for a master’s degree in library studies. Lynch remembers complaining about her father’s cooking. “We would come down for breakfast, and there would be chicken and string beans. You know, you’re kids. So you’re like, ‘Why are we eating this? What’s going on?’ ” she says. “But we all knew that our mother was doing something that she really wanted, and it was important to her.”

In the end, Lynch learned a lesson from her mother about defying gender expectations. In the South, she says, “there’s very much a view, sometimes, as to what little girls should do, or what women should do, and you really do not have to accept that.”

Meanwhile, Lynch’s parents shielded her, as best they could, from racism. In fourth grade, she says, when she performed well on a standardized test, her school, refusing to believe the score, asked her to retake it. “My parents never told me why,” says Lynch, who then got a higher score. At graduation her school decided that she would share the honor of valedictorian with two other students, one white and one black, she says. Her parents learned that this decision, too, was based on race—the school didn’t want a single black valedictorian—but again, kept the truth from their daughter. “As a preacher, I had seen some black people who were mad,” Reverend Lynch explains. “And once you get angry, you don’t think as well, and you don’t study as well or grow as fast.”  read more @

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