March 2, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC -- The Legal Services Corporation and the Justice Department are partners in "our country's ongoing pursuit of justice," Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., said today in a keynote address at LSC's Black History Month celebration.
"In the last 35 years, LSC has proven to be one of our nation's most effective agents for meaningful change. You all empower Americans who are struggling to live with dignity, who want to keep their jobs, who want to stay in their homes and who want to secure the basic necessities for their families. Quite simply, you change and you improve lives. And you've succeeded in pushing our nation toward progress and toward fairness. These are the achievements we've gathered here today to celebrate," the Attorney General said.
Congress established LSC in 1974 to promote equal access to justice and to ensure the delivery of high-quality civil legal services to the nation's poor. The Corporation is the single largest funder of civil legal aid, providing grants to 136 independent nonprofit legal aid programs across the country.
In his address, Attorney General Holder said the nation has "faced the most serious financial crisis in generations" and that "we must not allow this next generation, especially young African Americans, to become the first generation in decades not to keep pace with or exceed their parents' standard of living. LSC is an ally in this work. In fact, LSC-funded programs are critical to ensuring that employment practices are not used to illegally discriminate against any category of job applicants."
The LSC Black History Month program honored four students from the Csar Chvez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, Capitol Hill campus, for their scholastic achievements. Attorney General Holder told the students that "we're proud of your hard work, and we look forward to great things from each of you. You are our future leaders."
The Attorney General was welcomed to LSC by Victor M. Fortuno, the Corporation's interim president and longtime general counsel, LSC Board Chairman Frank B. Strickland of Atlanta, Board Vice Chairman Michael D. McKay of Seattle, and two presidential nominees to the LSC Board, John G. Levi of Chicago and Julie Reiskin of Denver.
More than 100 LSC staff members and guests gathered for the program, held at the Corporation's offices. Among the guests were Jo-Ann Wallace, president of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association; Alan W. Houseman, executive director of CLASP; William H. Orrick III, counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Division; Brenda Ford Harding, executive director of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program of the District of Columbia, and Helaine M. Barnett, the past president of LSC.
The nation "has made tremendous progress on the path towards justice. And although this progress may seem slow and halting at times, each of us has the power to make sure that it is inevitable," the Attorney General said.
He concluded by saying, "I'm proud to call all of you here at LSC partners in this work. I'm grateful to count you as stewards of our justice system and advocates for equal opportunity and economic empowerment."