AG Holder Bombs in First Speech

This past week, Eric Holder, the nation's first black Attorney General, got off to a rocky start. What could he be thinking, I asked myself as I watched the speech on C-Span. As he read his speech without the use of teleprompters or the dramatic flair of his friend, President Obama, Holder fumbled in his attempt to draw upon knowledge of history and instruct his fellow citizens about how to overcome the problem of race in our land. His timing and his delivery made me cringe as I watched his remarks. I knew instantly that Holder's ineptness would reflect badly on his boss and the entire Obama administration.

Perhaps Holder's problem began with a subtle misunderstanding of the role of the Attorney General. No, I am not talking about an understanding of the job description.  I am talking about having a proper respect for how those greats in the Attorney General office helped change their world. Despite the lackluster performance of several recent AGs, this position has been responsible for setting the tone for both law enforcement and the direction of the nation's concept of justice.  For example, Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy served in this post from 1961 to 1964. He worked with his older brother, President John Kennedy, during the Cuban missile crisis and helped establish the legal foundations for the lasting impact of the civil rights movement. Kennedy's visionary courage concerning the rights of blacks got him assassinated - just as civil rights champions, Dr. King, and Bobby's brother - J.F.K.

Therefore, I was shocked by Holder's statement last week in which he made the following statement, "...Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." Perhaps Holder's view of the AG function was tainted by a combination of pride (in his own achievements) and personal racial bitterness. I am not qualified to assess the root causes for the flaws in his logic, yet as an African American I cringed when this affluent armchair intellectual called us a nation of cowards.

Cowardice could hardly describe the sacrifice of Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, and thousands of nameless Americans that marched with Dr. King.  Hundreds of martyrs, both black and white, gave up their lives for the advancement of colored people in the last century. In addition, America is changing culturally. I pastor a church that has 22 different nationalities worshiping together. This weekend, my church members chose to spend time together - not just talking about race - we are working together to change America. White families are adopting disadvantaged black children and interracial couples are raising their families in the safety of our social network.

Even if someone agrees that Americans should be even more courageous in righting the collective wrongs of our culture, we have come a long way. My fear is that Holder was making an announcement "in code" or a   veiled threat to right some "imagined" wrongs that many of us do not have on our radar screen. These wrongs probably go far beyond the race issue.

Instead of celebrating the nation's destruction of the ultimate glass ceiling for minorities - electing the first black president, Holder misjudged the unique opportunity he had been given to intensify the nation's racial reconciliation efforts.  If he had been encouraging, he could have opened the hearts of millions of Americans and gained countless allies.  Every parent knows that you can get a baby to take its first, bold steps easier by lovingly calling its name than by threatening a bewildered kid, who is mastering new skills.

Perhaps it was wishful thinking for me to believe that Holder would have set a tone of celebration that would motivate people to take more groundbreaking steps concerning placing African-Americans in critical roles in the nation. Holder resembled a specialist that had rushed out of the dusty back rooms of the legal world to deliver a book report instead of the manifesto it could have been. Filled with pride of learning, he forgot to be a statesman. I hope he will analyze his mistake and avoid "hoof and mouth disease" in the future.

Despite Holder's hang-ups, the Justice Department's Black History Month celebration ended on the right note with the singing of the National Negro Anthem (Lift Every Voice and Sing). Written by black lawyer and civil rights activist James Weldon, the song thanks God for justice and strength to blacks. It also pledges allegiance to both God and our nation. I offer the last two stanzas of the song as my prayer for all Americans - black, white, Hispanic and Asian.

GOD of our weary years, GOD of our silent tears
Thou Who has brought us thus far on the way
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light
Keep us forever in the path we pray

Lest our feet, stray from the places our GOD where me met Thee
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand


Harry R. Jackson Jr. is senior pastor of 3,000-member Hope Christian Church in the nation's capital. Jackson, who earned an MBA from Harvard, is a best-selling author and popular conference speaker. He leads the High-Impact Leadership Coalition.


  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • Cindy Jacobs

    2017: Year of the Breakthrough

    "There will be a significant increase in miracles and signs and wonders."

  • Are you willing to volunteer for God's offensive army?

    Prophetic Word: Preparing for God's World War 3

    God is searching for soldiers of the cross who are willing to volunteer for His offensive army.

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Growing relationship

    2017 Prophetic Word: The Supernatural Key to Growing Your Relationship With God

    It's vital that we understand what comes from God and what comes from the devil.

  • Marriage man and woman

    Why Marriage Is Not Just Between a Man and a Woman

    Marriage is a miracle. Let us treat it like one.

  • Be encouraged to slow down to hear God in unexpected ways.

    A Common Reason You May Be Missing God's Voice

    Out of thousands of people, only six didn't fall into one experiment's trap. Discover how ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit