Civil Rights Reporter
Media > Newsletters > Civil Rights Reporter > August 2019 > Q&A with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Civil Rights Reporter RSS feeds

Q&A with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sat down earlier this week to discuss his thoughts on civil rights in Ohio.

Q. What are the significant civil rights issues in Ohio?
A. There’s a lot of debate about whether racism is dead and to my direct observation, racism is not dead. Now, certainly a lot of barriers have been torn down. It has become socially unacceptable to hold racist views but that doesn’t mean that it’s not out there. In a lot of ways the story of America has been wrapped up and wrapped around the story of the races learning to live together in the same society, and that story isn’t finished yet.

Q. What role should the Attorney General’s Office play in the resolution of civil rights issues?
A. It’s important to recognize that the Civil Rights Commission is the primary authority on civil rights in Ohio. We serve as a support function to the Civil Rights Commission. But it’s also important to recognize that the attorney general is in a position to provide moral leadership from time to time – to raise questions, to hold up a standard for justice – and I’ve tried to do that in the first six months in office.

Q. How can we be an advocate to the General Assembly about creating change in civil rights laws?
A. We need to recognize that the General Assembly is charged with actually enacting policy and law for the state of Ohio, not the attorney general. But the General Assembly listens to many voices as it weighs competing demands and competing virtues to make those policy choices. The attorney general should be a strong voice in that discussion.

Q. What role do civil rights play in a healthy economy?
A. The economy hums best in a place of trust and respect. Companies are more efficient, more profitable when workers operate as teams. All economic relations are first human relationships, a desire to want to work together, to do business, to enter into a contract, to trade. All of those functions are smoothed, improved and amplified in an environment in which civil rights are respected – and on the other hand, they are slowed down and fragmented and diminished when civil rights are ignored.

Q. Your office offered some educational sessions to employees at General Motors earlier this year in Toledo. How important is this type of education?
A. Someone once said, “To understand all is to forgive all.” That may be an overstatement but certainly knowledge and understanding decrease the potential for friction points in any situation, including the workplace. We saw an opportunity to bring greater understanding to one workplace for GM, and we’re very pleased that they accepted our offer to come in at no cost in a very fraught environment.