Eric Himpton Holder Jr. was born in The Bronx, New York, to parents with roots in Barbados. Holder’s father, Eric Himpton Holder Sr. (October 29, 1903 – February 12, 1998), was born in Saint Joseph, Barbados, and arrived in the United States at the age of 11. He later became a real estate broker. His mother, Miriam (January 25, 1924 – August 13, 2010), was born in New Jersey, while his maternal grandparents were emigrants from Saint Philip, Barbados. Holder grew up in East Elmhurst, Queens, and attended public school until the age of 10. When entering the 4th grade he was selected to participate in a program for intellectually gifted Black students.
In 1969, he graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and attended Columbia University, where he played freshman basketball and football, and was a teammate of actor Ed Harris. During that time, he lived in Carman Hall. He earned a B.A. degree in American history in 1973. Holder received his J.D. degree from Columbia Law School, graduating in 1976. He worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund during his first summer and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York during his second summer.
In 1969, while a freshman at Columbia, Holder was one of several dozen students who staged an occupation of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps office, renaming it as the Malcolm X student center.
Eric Himpton Holder Jr. (born January 21, 1951) is an American lawyer who served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States from 2009 to 2015. Holder, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama, was the first African American to hold the position of U.S. attorney general.
Born in New York City to a middle class family of Barbadian origin, he graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Columbia College, and Columbia Law School. Following law school, he left New York to work for the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice for 12 years. He next served as a judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia before being appointed by President Bill Clinton as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and subsequently Deputy Attorney General. While U.S. Attorney, he prosecuted Congressman Dan Rostenkowski for corruption charges related to his role in the Congressional Post Office scandal.
Following the Clinton administration, he worked at the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., representing the firm’s multinational corporate clients in litigation. He was senior legal advisor to Barack Obama during Obama’s presidential campaign and one of three members of Obama’s vice-presidential selection committee. Holder was a close ally and confidant of Obama’s and was selected as President Obama’s first Attorney General.
Holder became the first sitting attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress during an investigation of the Operation Fast and Furious ATF gunwalking scandal. The Justice Department’s Inspector General under Obama refused to prosecute him and later cleared him of the charges. Holder was succeeded as attorney general by Loretta Lynch in April 2015. He returned to Covington & Burling, where he continues to practice corporate litigation, and is also involved with efforts at gerrymandering reform through the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
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All featured faces of Black History are not captured in the 2023 theatre production.