When I realized that I wanted to work in the district attorney’s office—that I had found my calling—I was excited to share the decision with my friends and family. And I wasn’t surprised to find them incredulous. I had to defend my choice as one would a thesis. America has a deep and dark history of people using the power of the prosecutor as an instrument of injustice. I knew this history well—of innocent men framed, of charges brought against people of color without sufficient evidence, of prosecutors hiding information that would exonerate defendants, of the disproportionate application of the law. I grew up with these stories—so I understood my community’s wariness. But history told another story, too. I knew the history of brave prosecutors who went after the Ku Klux Klan in the South. I knew the stories of prosecutors who went after corrupt politicians and corporate polluters. I knew the legacy of Robert Kennedy, who, as U.S. attorney general, sent Department of Justice officials to protect the Freedom Riders in 1961, and sent the U.S. Marshals to protect James Meredith when he enrolled at Ole Miss the next year. I knew quite well that equal justice was an aspiration. I knew that the force of the law was applied unevenly, sometimes by design. But I also knew that what was wrong with the system didn’t need to be an immutable fact. And I wanted to be part of changing that.
Link · 427