EXCLUSIVE: Prominent Black Civil Rights Leaders Back Sessions

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Prominent black civil rights attorneys have expressed support for Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ appointment to become attorney general in letters exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller.

Democrats have voiced concerns with the possibility of Sessions’ serving as attorney general. Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile has said, “His demonstrated disdain for the rights of ordinary Americans, his history of discrimination and pattern of racist behavior make him unfit to serve as the next Attorney General.”

Much of the criticism of Sessions stems from his failed 1986 confirmation to become a federal judge. At the time a former colleague of Sessions came out and claimed Sessions had made racist remarks, which the then-federal prosecutor denied. It is this failed confirmation that has led the head of the Alabama NAACP to come out against Sen. Sessions.

But Alabama native Fred Gray, who represented Rosa Parks after she was arrested for refusing to give up a Montgomery bus seat, certainly does not think Sen. Sessions is a racist. Gray sent Sen. Sessions a letter on November 22 obtained by The Daily Caller in which he praised the work the Alabama senator has done to help him.

“As you know, I represented the men in the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study. You were with us at the White House when President Bill Clinton issued an official Apology on behalf of the U.S. Government for its role in that Study,” Gray wrote. Gray, who served as Martin Luther King Jr.’s first civil rights attorney, went on to say that Sen. Sessions “wrote a letter to President Obama in support of my nomination to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.”

Gerald Reynolds, who served as chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, has also written a letter in support of Sen. Sessions obtained by TheDC. “During my discussions with Senator Sessions and his staff, it was clear the senator has a strong interest in ensuring our nation’s antidiscrimination laws are vigorously enforced,” Reynolds wrote in a November 28 letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein. He added, “I am honored to give him my highest personal and professional recommendation.”

Last week, Alabama state’s senate minority leader Quinton Ross also came out against accusations that Sen. Sessions is a racist. “Additionally, I have spent time with him at the Magic City Classic and at Heritage Barbershop in Montgomery. I know him personally and all of my encounters with him have been for the greater good of Alabama,” Ross said.

Due to rule changes pushed by Senate Democrats in 2013, a simple majority of 51 senators is enough for Sen. Sessions to get confirmed. The Republicans currently hold a majority, 52 seats, in the Senate.