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At Black History Month event, Jeff Sessions says 'black history is American history'

On the final day of Black History Month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared "black history is American history." "During Black History Month, we honor the experience and the achievements of black Americans throughout our history," Sessions said in his remarks Tuesday at the Justice Department's National African American History Month Observance event. "But this month is not only a celebration for African Americans. It's a celebration for America. Black history is American history, a key thread in the fabric of our country."

Sessions, whose confirmation faced intense pushback because of his record on civil rights and voting rights, praised the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act as historical "pivot points" and lauded the Justice Department for playing a "huge part" in ensuring "equal justice must prevail in every corner of this nation." He also praised Martin Luther King Jr., whose wife Coretta Scott King wrote the scathing letter opposing Sessions that was brought to the Senate floor by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during Sessions' confirmation hearing.

Sessions' call for the Justice Department to "fulfill [its] duty" in protecting citizens' rights came just one day after the Justice Department was widely criticized by civil rights activists for reversing the federal government's opposition to Texas' voter ID legislation, which makes it disproportionately more difficult for minority citizens to register to vote. The Obama administration disapproved of the legislation on the grounds it violated voting rights.