Not long ago, Harvard Law School's Charles Ogletree told Politico that Eric Holder "is a race man":
Obama clearly respects Holder’s four decades of experience as an attorney and judge and supports Holder's positions on LGBT rights and racial profiling, often telling his staff he recognizes it’s not all Holder’s fault: The job of attorney general is a “shit magnet” for the most intractable controversies.
But there's another explanation, and according to the two dozen current and former Obama administration officials and confidants of both men I’ve spoken with in recent weeks, it may well be the main reason the first black president of the United States has stood so firmly behind the first black attorney general of the United States: Holder has been willing to say the things Obama couldn’t or wouldn’t say about race.
“He’s a race man,” says Charles Ogletree, a longtime friend of Holder’s who taught and mentored Obama and his wife, Michelle, as Harvard Law School students in the 1980s. “He’s gone farther and deeper into some issues of race than the White House would like, but I know he has the president’s well-wishes. It’s clear [Obama and Holder] believe in the same things.”
Well, Holder's "exit interview" with Politico certainly confirms Ogletree's theory of Holder's worldview:
[W]hen he was asked what book he would recommend to a young person coming to Washington, like his 32-year-old aide Kevin Lewis, who started at the White House at age 26, Holder made a revealing choice: “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”
“I say this not to every African-American of his age, but for every American, that you read ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’ 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,” Holder said. “And that would be a book I would recommend to everybody.”
My own #1 book recommendation for young folks coming to Washington probably would have been The Federalist, which would seem slightly more relevant to the work of Washington in general and the Justice Department specifically, but I'm not the attorney general of the United States so what do I know?
Holder goes on to say in this new interview 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.