Politics

Charlene Hampton Holloway’s fight for civil rights came early.

At 13 years old, she joined the NAACP. A year later, she was among dozens arrested during an anti-segregation protest at Louisville’s now defunct Fontaine Ferry amusement park.

Today, the 69-year-old Holloway continues to volunteer her time to further civil rights.

On Monday, as a hundred or so residents filed into the Hughlett Temple AME Zion Church in Russell, Holloway weaved among the pews, distributing flyers urging opposition to President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General.

“Under him there’s a good possibility our country will be set back decades,” she said.

The local NAACP chapter is following the national executive committee, which earlier this month voted unanimously to oppose Sessions’ nomination.

Sessions has met a flurry of opposition since he was announced as Trump’s pick for attorney general.

During confirmation hearings last week he faced pointed and, at times, contentious, questioning for Senate colleagues. Much of the concern has focused on Sessions’ voting record as a senator and allegations of racism that led a Republican-controlled Senate committee to block his nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986.

Sessions has adamantly denied the accusations of being a racist, a sexist and a xenophobe, and he told Senate colleagues last week that he’d follow the Constitution and not be “a mere rubber stamp” for Trump.

Still, Holloway and many others remain skeptical.

“Sen. Sessions’ voting record while in the U.S. Senate is indicative for his disregard for many of the laws and programs that he will be responsible for enforcing,” she said Monday at the entrance to Hughlett Temple AME Zion Church as a recording of King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech echoed high into the church’s vaulted ceilings.

She pointed to Sessions’ past votes against legislation such as the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Violence Against Women Act.

Holloway and other NAACP members opposing Sessions nomination are asking Louisvillians to write or call Kentucky senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to voice their dissent.

“We don’t believe in discrimination — against anyone,” she said.

Sessions will likely be confirmed by the Senate in the coming weeks.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.