ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) is honoring the contributions and history of the African American community during this year’s Black History Month.

First celebrated in the U.S. in 1970, EDVA has commemorated this annual tradition for more than 25 years.

However, the celebration is unique in 2021, with Raj Parekh serving as Acting U.S. Attorney for the EDVA, the first person of color to lead the office, according to a release.

“Our Office will continue to recognize the proud traditions and rich history of the African American community, while also acknowledging the challenging realities, both past and present, that Black Americans have experienced here in Virginia and across our Nation,” Parekh said. “As it is inscribed on the walls of the U.S. Department of Justice Building, ‘the place of Justice is a hallowed place,’ and we are deeply committed in EDVA to ensuring that all participants in the legal process—including victims, parties, and members of the Bench and Bar—are treated with respect and dignity as we seek equal justice under the law. As part of that commitment, we are dedicated to furthering our collective efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in all forms through our hiring, advancement, and community outreach practices.”

In the past, EDVA has commemorated Black History Month through a variety of programs, including a 2014 panel with members of the 1971 T.C. Williams High School Football Team, who inspired the 2000 film “Remember the Titans,” and a 2019 panel with representatives of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

According to a release, EDVA also established a Diversity Committee in 2010 to include a cross-section of the office’s administrative staff, legal support, and attorneys. The Diversity Committee tackles issues of diversity and inclusion in the office’s recruitment and hiring practices, as well as training and retention of existing employees.

“We extend our deepest appreciation to the members of EDVA’s Black History Month and Diversity committees for their leadership and commitment in spearheading our diversity and inclusion-oriented programs for the benefit of the entire Office,” Parekh said. “EDVA’s dedicated and selfless workforce is, and will always be, the heart and soul of our Office.”