By Derek Joy
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last week submitted his letter of resignation ending a nearly six year tenure as the first Black American to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. Holder’s resignation will take effect when a successor is confirmed by the Senate. Precisely when the Senate confirmation will be has yet to be determined.
President Barack Obama has expressed a desire to move forward on naming and confirming Holder’s successor, while Senate Republicans expressed intentions to wait until after the Mid Term Elections on Nov. 4.
In the interim the dialogue assessing Holder’s impact on Black Americans as well as the nation as a whole. Hence the question: Are both, individually and collectively, better?
“I think he (Eric Holder) has done a tremendous job. He’s been there six years. That’s a long time. The average time is four years, sometimes less. Now, it gives somebody else to gain experience as Attorney General, “said Fla. State Senator Chris Smith, (Dem., Dist. 31/Fort Lauderdale), who is an attorney in private practice.
Like many others, Smith was surprised by Holder’s resignation. Smith is also counted among those who say Black Americans in particular and the nation in general, benefitted from Holder’s tenure as Attorney General.
That group excludes Republicans and racists in America. The latter was exposed by the Justice Department argued and fought civil rights violations and other injustices born of political privileges and racism.
“I truly believe that because he’s (Eric Holder) one of the main people that had the President’s back, kept the President from being thrown to the sharks, the only one with any backbone,” said El Portal Village Mayor Daisy Black.
“It’s sad to see him go. I don’t know who they’ll bring in to protect the President and the nation. With all the hate and dirt in America, Black Americans are definitely better since he has been Attorney General. “Look at Congress. We hear them talking about suing the Attorney General.
What Attorney General has ever been sued by Congress? They’re spending taxpayers’ money. That shows the people are not being served. It’s their own selfish preferences and needs they’re interested in serving.”
Holder rebuffed Senate Re-publicans by refusing to provide them with documentation from an investigation that was halt-ed. They demanded oversight and control, which Holder opposed. Much of the opposition to, and attacks on Holder by Republicans was viewed by many as a fight to perpetuate unchecked civil rights violations, racism in America.
“Under Holder’s Administration, the Justice Department attacked the disproportionately high number of Blacks getting harsh sentences for non-violent crimes, while white collar criminal received much shorter sentences,” said the Rev. Dr. James Bush III, a former Fla. State Legislator, who founded the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-Violent Institute in Miami.
“He addressed those issues. He did address those issues because he’s Black. He addressed them because they were wrong. Black Americans and the nation as a whole are better off as a result of his efforts as Attorney
While Bush noted that Holder accomplished the five goals he set when he was confirmed as Attorney General, his harshest critics grudgingly acknowledged the same.
Still, Holder’s resignation came as a surprise, with little consideration for a very distinct possibility. “His resignation surprised me,” said Neal Hall, a community activist. “It could be that he’s positioning himself for an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Ginsberg (Ruth Bader Ginsberg) is getting older. Some people think she should retire.”
Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. What is clear is the fact that feathers were ruffled in American society, institutions as a result of Holder’s tenure as Attorney General.
“I think he’s been the person to speak up on issues affecting the Black community,” said Smith. “He spoke on issues that President Obama couldn’t speak on.”
“He went to the NAACP, the Urban League and the Black community and said things that needed to be said. The country is better for his service.”