Indian-American Vanita Gupta, the Obama administration's top civil rights lawyer, announced yesterday that she will lead a coalition of civil and human rights organisations at a time when they see the Justice Department softening its focus on a number of their priorities.
Vanita Gupta, who was head of the Obama Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said she will become the new president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, amid an "unprecedented assault on civil rights."
Replacing Wade Henderson, who led the organisation for more than 20 years, Gupta starts her new position with the coalition representing more than 200 national civil rights groups on June 1.
"Having been on the inside and the outside gives me a fairly unique perspective on the way that government can create obstacles but also be a real lever for change," she said.
Jeff Sessions, the new US Attorney-General, has indicated the department will shift dramatically from many of the policies Gupta implemented. Sessions has said already the department will pursue fewer wide-ranging federal investigations of police departments. Those inquiries were a staple of the Obama administration efforts to overhaul troubled agencies after racially charged encounters.
Gupta is a former American Civil Liberties Union attorney and longtime civil rights lawyer.