by Kevin Reece
HOUSTON – In a speech to 13,000 of her sorority sisters in Houston this week U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch talked about an “epidemic of mistrust” between police and people of color and called on the ladies of the largest African American women’s group in the country to keep up the fight for civil and social justice that their predecessors in Delta Sigma Theta began 102 years ago.
In her speech, Lynch did not mention the recent Sandra Bland case in nearby Hempstead, although Sunday she called it another case that highlights the distrust people of color often have with police.
“As this moment of challenge and opportunity, in this season of difficulty and of hope, now is the time to raise our collective voice and make ourselves heard. Now is the time,” said Lynch as the guest of honor speaking during the Social Action Luncheon at the sorority’s 52nd annual convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
While Lynch did not mention Bland by name during her speech, she did mention she is half-way through a tour of U.S., cities where communities and police are working together to rebuild that trust. She has spoken with police and community leaders in Cincinnati, Birmingham, Alabama, and East Haven, Connecticut to see how their outreach programs are getting positive results. Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Richmond, California are next on her list to visit “to continue to elevate these issues to the national stage. And find common ground and common cause.”
“We are also working with communities around the country to alleviate an epidemic of mistrust between citizens and law enforcement. This epidemic causes fear for community members and danger for the officers charged with their protection. This is one of my top priorities during my tenure as attorney general.”
“She went bigger than Sandra Bland. She wants to help all the Sandra Blands,” said sorority member Angela Gilbert of Pennsylvania. “She wants to help all of the people who are underserved or mistreated. She wants to change the justice system.”
“And we just wants this country to get it right. We’re not asking for anything special. We just want justice and we want truth,” added Delta Sigma Theta member Constance Kennedy from Lexington, Kentucky.
Delta Sigma Theta began in 1913 at Howard University and now has approximately 200,000 members. The sorority has over 1,000 chapters located in the Bahamas, Bermuda, England, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Liberia, South Korea, and the Virgin Islands.