Today, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the Justice Department in honor of Black History Month. As the first African-American leading the DOJ, he called for a national dialogue on race — something the United States has generally avoided:
Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in two many ways, a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issue in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about things racial. […]
And we, in this room, bear a special responsibility. Through its work and through its example, the Department of Justice — this Department of Justice — as long as I’m here, must and will leave the nation to the new birth of freedom so long ago promised by our greatest president. This is our duty, this is our solemn responsibility.
Holder’s remarks are a refreshing break from the Bush administration, during which Justice Department officials allowed conservative political interests to trump civil rights concerns. Watch Holder’s speech here.