Eric Holder Has Become a ‘Black Political Superhero’

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 28:  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. Department of Justice May 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. During the event Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas administered the Oath of Citizenship to approximately 70 new U.S. citizens. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

With Loretta Lynch finally confirmed and scheduled to be sworn in on Monday, today is the final day of Eric Holder’s six-plus years as attorney general. While Holder has been the ultimate Obama-era villain for many on the right, many on the left, particularly people of color, have considered him a champion on issues like civil rights and criminal justice reform. Posting at the Root, political strategist Charles D. Ellison captures the pride he and many other African-Americans feel about Holder, whom he calls a “black political superhero”:

Somewhere halfway through President Obama’s first term, as the black community eventually acquiesced to the reality of the first black president as Washington mortal, the Holder ethos colored our imaginations the same way black-history heroes adorn murals on brick city walls. This is where Holder discovers some immortality, whether intentional or not: the Brooklyn, N.Y.-born son of Bajan immigrants channeling scraps of Caribbean defiance found in the DNA of greats like Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Shirley Chisholm.

He goes on to suggest that for African-Americans, “Holder’s exit is a glimpse into the grief two years from now when the first black family leaves the White House”:

Many believe that Holder was actually the unapologetic “double consciousness” race-man proxy for President Obama, the close, unelected confidant who could do and say in public what his leader-of-the-free-world friend couldn’t. But in so many ways, that doesn’t quite capture Holder’s contributions at a time when knuckle-up, black-man bravery appears in decline. … [I]n an era when so many fools jump on Grammy stages or publicly shame their babies’ mamas, Holder brought an edgy, intelligent, Shaft-like beat back. You could catch him, dressed in suit and tie, enjoying his role as jurisprudential “Blade,” battling back neo-segregationist vampires who now work in earnest toward wholesale reversals in civil rights.

For that, he wore all the trouble and partisan insults as a badge of pride. And despite his understandable yearning for a long-deserved vacation, we get the sense that he’d do it the same way if ever given the chance to do it all over again.