EDVA Commemorates Black History Month

EDVA Commemorates Black History Month

ALEXANDRIA, VA (STL.News) As part of a long-standing tradition spanning more than 25 years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) will honor the contributions and history of the African American community during this year’s Black History Month.

“Our Office will continue to recognize the proud traditions and rich history of the African American community, while also acknowledging the challenging realities, both past and present, that Black Americans have experienced here in Virginia and across our Nation,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “As it is inscribed on the walls of the U.S. Department of Justice Building, ‘the place of Justice is a hallowed place,’ and we are deeply committed in EDVA to ensuring that all participants in the legal process—including victims, parties, and members of the Bench and Bar—are treated with respect and dignity as we seek equal justice under the law.  As part of that commitment, we are dedicated to furthering our collective efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in all forms through our hiring, advancement, and community outreach practices.”

The annual tradition of Black History Month in February is commemorated by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which establishes a national theme for each year.  The theme for 2021 is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.” For over 25 years, EDVA has hosted events based on the national theme, or closely related topics, with speakers and performers appearing during programs held at EDVA’s offices.  Those speakers have included prominent members of the legal community—such as judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, Justice Department leadership, and law professors—as well as scholars, historians, and performing artists.

Notable examples of memorable Black History Month programs held in EDVA have included a 2014 panel with members of the 1971 T.C. Williams High School Football Team, who inspired the 2000 film Remember the Titans; Deval L. Patrick, then-Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Civil Rights Division (1995); John W. Marshall, then-U.S. Marshal for EDVA (1998); Eric H. Holder, Jr., then-Deputy Attorney General (2000); Lt. General Daniel James III, then-Director of the Air National Guard (2005); Virginia Supreme Court Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn (2016); U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson (2018); and representatives of the renowned National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. (2017, 2019).

EDVA’s tradition of hosting annual Black History Month celebrations began in 1994 and has been led by EDVA’s Black Affairs Special Emphasis Program Manager, Sabrina A. Black, since inception.  The Diversity Committee was established in 2010 and includes a cross-section of EDVA’s administrative staff, legal support, and attorneys, and it has been instrumental in tackling key issues such as work/life balance, training and retention of existing employees, and diversity and inclusion in EDVA’s recruitment and hiring practices.  Over time, EDVA has increased the diversity of its senior management ranks, with half of the current senior management team consisting of women and racial minorities, including Acting U.S. Attorney Parekh, the first person of color to lead the Office.

“We extend our deepest appreciation to the members of EDVA’s Black History Month and Diversity committees for their leadership and commitment in spearheading our diversity and inclusion-oriented programs for the benefit of the entire Office,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Parekh.  “EDVA’s dedicated and selfless workforce is, and will always be, the heart and soul of our Office.”

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.