[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] said [statement text] Wednesday that, despite landmark court decisions and legislation bolstering the official recognition of racial equality, the US remains a country that has not truly resolved its racial divide. Holder, who is the country's first African American attorney general, made his remarks during a Justice Department (DOJ) [official website] event commemorating Black History Month and said it should be used to facilitate a dialogue about race. Holder said that average Americans "simply do not talk enough with each other about race," and that he would use his position as attorney general to help address the problem:
Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially 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 issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nations history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us. But we must do more- and we in this room bear a special responsibility. Through its work and through its example this Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must - and will - lead the nation to the "new birth of freedom" so long ago promised by our greatest President. This is our duty and our solemn obligation.Earlier this month, the US Senate [official website] voted 75-21 to confirm [JURIST report] Holder as attorney general. Prior to becoming the attorney general, Holder served as a associate judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia [official website] and Deputy US Attorney General [archive materials] during the Clinton administration. Additionally, Holder served briefly as acting attorney general during a brief period of the Bush administration before the confirmation of John Ashcroft [BBC profile].