Last month, the FBI released a report that made it clear that hate crimes against Muslims and people of color are becoming increasingly common in the United States. On Monday, Loretta Lynch, the first Black woman to serve as the U.S. attorney general, had some very pointed words to say about that trend.

Lynch spoke at an interfaith event at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center, a mosque in Sterling, Virginia. She came with a prepared speech, but her improvised remarks at the beginning poignantly set the tone for her talk: “When one of us is threatened, we all have to speak out, regardless of the discomfort it might call upon us. When one of us is in harm’s way, we’re all in harm’s way.”

From her speech:

I know that many Americans are feeling uncertainty and anxiety as we witness the recent eruption of divisive rhetoric and hateful deeds. I know that many Americans are wondering if they are in danger simply because of what they look like or where they pray. I know that some are wondering whether the progress we have made at such great cost, and over so many years, is in danger of sliding backwards.  

I understand those feelings. I know that as we continue to demand a nation where all people are truly treated equally, we will be met with prejudice, bigotry and condemnation.  

It is true that there is nothing foreordained about our march towards a more just and peaceful future. There never has been. Our centuries-long project of creating a more perfect union was not the product of fate, or destiny.  It was the result of countless individuals making the choice to stand up, to demand recognition, to refuse to rest until they knew that their children were inheriting a nation that was more tolerant, more inclusive and more equal. That is why it is so fitting that we are here today in this beautiful house of worship, this place of deep and abiding faith. It has been faith that has sustained this fight since the beginning. …

My friends, that hope is still alive in our country. You and I know what the declaration means when it says, “All men are created equal.” You and I know what the Constitution means when it says, “We, the people.” So let us leave here united in our confidence, inspired by our faith and strengthened by our courage. Let us leave here with a renewed commitment to demanding nothing less than a country that is true to its founding promises.  And let us leave here in hope—the hope that has brought the United States so far in the last 240 years; the hope that I am confident will carry us even further in the days to come.

Read her prepared remarks here, or watch the full speech via C-Span (she reaches the stage at the 54-minute mark).