FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 6, 2020) – It is an honor to be here today, standing among this esteemed group of constitutional officers, who share a collective vision for a stronger Kentucky. I look forward to working with all of them in the coming years.
It is with both humility and excitement that I share with you my vision for the office of the Attorney General.
Let me start by saying that we have hit the ground running.
We are building a staff that will uphold the law without fear or favor.
We are putting emphasis on the priorities that resonated with the people of the Commonwealth. My greatest interest in these early months will be a singular devotion to renewing the promise of this office as the chief law enforcement office here in Kentucky.
As part of this effort, this office will be fully dedicated to working with federal, state, and local law enforcement to ensure that we are a unified voice for the voiceless.
In our society, there are those who feel like their government does not hear them. Everyday, we encounter those that are hurting within our communities. So it is my commitment to you that this office will be here for the downtrodden, the marginalized, and for those who cannot speak for themselves.
We cannot afford to lose anyone to the drug epidemic, to human trafficking, to child abuse, to any of those ailments that plague our society. We owe it to the next generation to ensure that they are not robbed of human capital, capacity and talent.
We at the Attorney General’s office will work day in and day out to save lives and improve the public safety of all Kentuckians.
I ran for Attorney General, because I believe in the importance of this job and the good that can be done in this position.
To me, the role of Attorney General means adhering to one guiding principle – the rule of law. The bedrock of our society is that we are a nation and a government of laws, not of men, as John Adams once put it.
And if we adhere to that simple principle, it makes the rest of our agenda fall right into place:
Protecting and ensuring public safety.
Providing reliability and consistency in the way that the AG’s office operates.
Defending our state and the laws passed by our duly elected representatives in the General Assembly.
During my campaign, I promised to stop and see Mr. Lincoln, here, in the Capitol Rotunda every day. We think of him first as our 16th president, but he was a country lawyer first and had interesting things to say about the profession.
"Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges. Let it be written in Primmers, spelling books, and in Almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice."
Lincoln’s words—spoken in 1838—underpinned his reverence for the law and his view that it be talked of and celebrated in venues that permeate our lives.
In our churches. In our halls of government. In our homes and schools.
To teach people to revere and obey our laws is to teach people to be good citizens.
And in a free society that depends on good citizens for its existence there can be no higher calling for an Attorney General than to do everything I possibly can to honor the sacrifice of all those who fought and died to give us a free nation of laws, which are designed to protect us and give everyone a fair chance to succeed.
Part of my charge as Attorney General is to set an example for everyone in Kentucky when it comes to the law and how it is to be applied.
Your politics. Your upbringing. Your station in life. Your heritage. Your finances. Your color. Your gender. Your geography.
These things do not determine how you will be treated under the law.
No, there is but one maxim to which I adhere – equal justice under the law. For everyone. Period.
My faith teaches me to treat everyone justly – equally.
The Book of Micah, chapter 6, verse 8, tells us: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
To act justly. To love mercy. And to walk humbly with your God.
I can’t think of better instructions for being a good Attorney General than what is found in that scripture.
People wonder about the compatibility of faith and public service. Not only are they compatible, but I believe faith is essential to understanding and provoking the best intentions from those who step forward to serve.
And so in the AG’s office we will not shrink away from our faith. It may not control our decisions, but it will inform our views.
I want everyone in this room to know that I take seriously the honor of being the first African American elected on his own to a statewide office.
I recognize the significance of this moment. But what is more important to me is that I hope this moment propels men and women who like me to answer the call of public service, regardless of their political affiliation.
I hope what it says to them is that not only can you cast your ballot in a state wide election but that you can also put your name on that ballot and have it fairly considered by the citizens of this commonwealth.
W.E.B. Dubois, a civil rights activist and influential writer, said that: “I believe in God, who made of one blood all nations that on earth do dwell. I believe that all men—black and brown and white—are brothers, varying through time and opportunity in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and the possibility of infinite development,” he said.
That’s the mission. To build a better world for those who come after us. To unlock the doors of “infinite development” for our children and grandchildren, the way our forebearers unlocked doors for us.
We will not be perfect. We will rise and fall. We will succeed and fail. And at the end of our lives, we will look back and wish we could have done just a little more. It is human nature to never truly be satisfied.
But we should be satisfied. Because at that moment, we will be secure in the knowledge that, even though we will leave behind work for the next generation to do, we will have unlocked the doors necessary for them to achieve greater things…Things we cannot even fathom today, but things, nonetheless, that will represent the next steps in human freedom and equality.
That’s the mission. To serve the public. To serve our fellow man. To serve God. And to build a world that can be made better still by the next generation.
I am here today because of the men and women who had that attitude before me. And I will work every day to live up to their dreams for me.
Mr. Dubois did not know that Daniel Cameron would come along in Kentucky in 2019. But he knew that he was creating a world in which a Daniel Cameron could come along and walk through the door that he unlocked.
Last night, at midnight, I took the oath of office at the University of Louisville Law School, in a room that once hosted Martin Luther King Jr. for a speech. His picture was on the wall there, and he was watching us as I swore on the Holy Bible to uphold the laws of our state and nation.
And I will leave you with this. Not a quote from Dr. King, but rather from his wife, Coretta Scott King, who once said that “freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.”
If we remember and act upon her words, friends, we cannot fail. And our old Kentucky home will be greater tomorrow than she is today.
Thank you all for being here, and I look forward to serving you to the best of my ability.