I Am Also a Black Man

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From remarks by Eric Holder ’73CC, ’76LAW at St. Louis Community College–Florissant Valley, in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 20. Holder, the first African-American to serve as US attorney general, announced his resignation on September 25.


The eyes of the nation and the world are watching Ferguson right now. The world is watching because the issues raised by the shooting of Michael Brown predate this incident. This is something that has a history to it, and the history simmers beneath the surface in more communities than just Ferguson. We have seen a great deal of progress over the years. But we also see problems, and these problems stem from mistrust and mutual suspicion ... I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man ... I think about a time in Georgetown — a nice neighborhood of Washington — when I’m running to a movie at about eight o’clock at night. I’m running with my cousin. A police car comes driving up and flashes his lights, yelling, “Where you going? Hold it!” I say, “Whoa! I’m going to a movie.” Now my cousin starts mouthing off. I’m like, “This is not where we want to go. Keep quiet.” I’m angry and upset. We negotiate the whole thing and we walk to our movie. At the time that he stopped me, I wasn’t a kid. I was a federal prosecutor. I worked at the United States Department of Justice. So I’ve confronted this myself.

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