Eric Holder, who served as the public face of the Obama administration’s legal fight against terrorism and pushed to make the U.S. criminal justice system more even-handed, has resigned after six years on the job. He is the nation’s first black attorney general.
President Barack Obama announced the personnel change Thursday afternoon. The White House said Holder will remain at the Justice Department until his successor is in place.
The 63-year-old former judge and prosecutor took office in early 2009 as the U.S. government grappled with the worst financial crisis in decades and with divisive questions on the handling of captured terrorism suspects, issues that helped shape his six-year tenure as the country’s top law enforcement official. He is the fourth-longest serving attorney general in U.S. history.
He also weighed in on matters of racial fairness, taking steps to improve police relations with minorities, enforce civil rights laws and remove racial disparities in sentencing. Most recently he became the Obama administration’s face in the federal response to the police shooting last month of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. In the shooting’s aftermath, he enlisted a team of criminal justice researchers to study racial bias in law enforcement.
On matters of policy, Holder spoke frankly about how his upbringing — his father emigrated from Barbados and his sister-in-law helped integrate the University of Alabama — helped shape his thinking. He even referred to America in 2010 as a “nation of cowards” in discussing matters of race. He later lamented that “systemic and unwarranted racial disparities remain disturbingly common.”
Story compiled from Associated Press.