Good afternoon. My name is Tom Perrelli. As Associate Attorney General, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to welcome all of you to the Department of Justice today for this great occasion: the installation of Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez.
The Department of Justice is a great institution, and there is much to celebrate within the halls of this building and in all of its branches and offices across the country. And I personally – and I know the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General feel the same way – was thrilled to walk back in these doors. We have re-joined a Department full of amazing professionals. And since we came back into the Department, we have only gotten more and more excited as the many individuals who make up our leadership team have come on board.
But make no mistake about it: The installation of a new assistant attorney general, in President Obama's and Attorney General Holder's Civil Rights Division, in 2009, is special. Although we gather here to celebrate the arrival of Tom Perez, I can guarantee you that Tom is already hard at work. Together with a talented front-office staff, and a team of career civil rights lawyers and other professionals that is fired up and ready to go, Tom has already begun to make the voice of this Administration heard in the fight for equality and fairness for all Americans.
We are going to be hearing from a lot of other voices this afternoon, from the Department’s leadership and from friends of Tom who are also partners in the ongoing work to achieve Civil Rights for every American.
Let me just say at the outset a couple of things that will be echoed by many of our speakers today. First, there is much work to be done. Throughout its history the Civil Rights Division has been at the core of what the Department of Justice is; when it is at its best, it protects the American public like few other institutions that we have. It has been called upon at some of America’s darkest times to protect those whose rights have been trampled and to vindicate the Constitution’s most important provisions, even when unpopular. Today, the Division’s work remains as critical as ever, as it faces new challenges and seeks to transforms itself for the work that needs to be done in the 21st century.
Second, there is no doubt that Tom Perez is the man for the job. His varied background – first as a career attorney in the Civil Rights Division, then as the leader of the Office of Civil Rights at HHS, then as Special Counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy, then as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Division, then as an elected official, then as a state Labor Secretary, and then as one of the leaders of the President’s transition – give him a unique perspective on all of the ways in which the Civil Rights Division can fulfill its enormous responsibilities and how it can partner with other agencies and state and local officials to advance the cause of civil rights. And I will speak from my own experience with Tom – he is a man of true vision, both for the cause of civil rights and for the transformation of the organization that he now leads. We are embarking on an exciting time for the Division, and I look forward to working each day with Tom and his great team.