For U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, America’s top lawyer, father, and self-described social activist, uplifting the nation’s Black boys and young men of color is not just a priority, it’s a principled mission.
Sitting at a long desk in a cavernous conference room inside the U.S Department of Justice, Holder, the nation’s first Black U.S. Attorney General, talks with passion and purpose when asked about President Barack Obama’s ambitious initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper,” a sweeping plan to empower the America’s young black men.
“When we think about the legacy of this President, I think this will be one of those critical parts,” Holder told me.
“I think to put the full weight of the presidency and the federal government behind an effort that is directed at a community within our nation that has for too long at best been forgotten and at worse mistreated, to mobilize the weight of the federal government is something that will serve him well as history judges him,” Holder said.
This is not just a mundane government project for Obama, not just another federal spreadsheet. It’s perhaps the cornerstone of his legacy – an opportunity for the nation’s first Black president to use his bully pulpit to help improve the quality of life for many African-American and Latino boys and young men who have been disenfranchised by a racially-imbalanced society.
Obama referred to “My Brother’s Keeper” last week at the White House when asked about his opinion on the Michael Brown case, the unarmed 18-year-old from Ferguson, Missouri who was shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9.
The President said far too many young Black men have experienced frequent interactions with the criminal justice system at an early age.
“One of the things that we’ve done is to include the Department of Justice in this conversation under the banner of “My Brother’s Keeper” to see where can we start working with local communities to inculcate more trust, more confidence in the criminal justice system,” Obama said.