On February 24, Karl Racine ’81, the District of Columbia’s first elected, independent Attorney General, spoke to the senior class.
He discussed his experience as a student at St. John’s, his role as attorney general, and how St. John’s values and mission align with the Office of the Attorney General.
As the city’s chief legal officer, Racine relies on his 30 years of legal and leadership experience to advise the mayor and District agencies, defend the city in court, and use the law to advance the public interest. He has prioritized juvenile justice reform, consumer protection, public integrity, and affordable housing in communities across DC. He also launched the nation’s first restorative justice program within a prosecutor’s office.
SJC President Jeffrey Mancabelli introduced Racine, citing his background, list of accomplishments, and recent office initiatives, and then led the group in prayer. Opening his discussion with an emphasis on empowerment, Racine reminded students that there will always be good and bad experiences in life, but “you have the resolve to overcome those ups and downs. Never be afraid to ask for help.” He credits Mr. Dent and Coach Gallagher for putting him on a course of “modest success” at SJC and building his self-confidence. He passed on their advice to the seniors, “Don’t hold yourself back.”
Racine noted that the teachings and mission of St. John’s are consistent with the Office of Attorney General. “We use the law for the vulnerable and often poor of the community—creatively.” Both strive to achieve equity, work for social justice, and help people reach their potential. Racine told the group that his office welcomes interns interested in serving the community through law and those students who would like to complete Christian service hours in a public law firm.
After addressing the students, Racine answered questions on a range of topics such as advocate programs for police officers, restorative justice, first amendment rights, and antitrust lawsuits. One student asked whether it was difficult for the AG’s Office to remain unbiased. Racine responded, “People come to life from different places, and you can’t judge people based on what you think they are thinking or what you think is motivating them. Most people are similar, and you have to give people a shot.”
At the conclusion of the assembly, Student Government President Hannah Kirby ’22 presented Racine with a thank-you gift from the senior class. “We are so grateful for AG Racine taking the time to speak with our students. With his passion for justice, he models our mission, ‘Enter to learn, leave to serve,’” said President Mancabelli.