In a wide-ranging exit interview with politico.com last Friday, outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder surprised some when he showed support for one of the United States’ most feared and uncompromising Black social critics.
“I would hope that I say this, not to every African-American of his age but for every American, that you read ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X,’” the first Americanized-African U.S. attorney general responded when interviewer Mike Allen asked him to name the one book he recommended for a young man coming to Washington to read.
“To see the transition that that man went through … from petty criminal, to a person who was severely and negatively afflicted by race, to somebody who ultimately saw the humanity in all of us … that would be a book I would recommend to everybody,” Holder suggested.
Later in this interview, Holder goes on to say that the most important priority for the Justice Department needs to be to lower the burden of proof necessary for the federal government to prosecute state and local government officials on accusations of civil rights violations.
On lowering federal hate crime standards, Holder said, “It’s certainly something that I’m going to want to talk about before I leave. I think some serious consideration needs to be given to the standard of proof that has to be met before federal involvement is appropriate, and that’s something that I am going to be talking about before I leave office.”
The calls to change how hate crime cases are handled come after Holder’s Justice Department announced it would not pursue charges against 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Holder’s agency has announced that it will not seek a case against Ferugson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed Black 18-year-old.
As for his future plans, Holder said he is considering returning to his former law firm, Covington & Burling. Holder is America’s fourth longest-serving attorney general.