Despite attempts to smear Sessions on civil rights, he has a strong record supporting civil rights. In 1981, as U.S. Attorney, Sessions prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan in the lynching death of Michael Donald, and got the death penalty for one of the Klansmen. Sessions then worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center in securing a $7 million civil judgment that bankrupted the Alabama Ku Klux Klan because of the wrongful death of Michael Donald.
From December 1995 through January 1996, fires destroyed several predominantly black churches in Alabama. Sessions focused on solving the fires and brought in a retired federal agent that specialized in explosives and arson to aid in the probe, attended a White House meeting on the church fires with President Clinton and Southern Governors, and attended a summit on church burning and hate crimes at Howard University.
As a U.S. Senator, Sessions worked alongside the Congressional Black Caucus for a decade to pass the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which addressed racial disparities in drug crime sentencing. The leadership conference called Sessions a “longtime supporter of eliminating sentencing disparities.” In 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law.
In 2015, Sessions spearheaded efforts in the Senate to honor the 50th Anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, and participated in the commemorative march with Congressman John Lewis and others to mark the anniversary. Sessions was the lead sponsor on legislation that awarded a Congressional Gold Medal to the foot soldiers who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery voting rights march in 1965. In March 2015, Sessions attended a commemorative march in Selma, Alabama to mark the sacrifices of freedom-marchers 50 years earlier. Sessions also sponsored legislation to award the Congressional Gold medal to Rosa Parks, and paid tribute to her on the Senate Floor.