May 23, 1998, was one of the happiest days of my life. After four years of hard work, I joined 485 of my fellow law school students as we were set to receive ourJuris Doctor degrees. You may not remember, but you were our commencement keynote speaker that day at the George Washington University National Center.
You rolled through the usual platitudes: “To those whom much is given, much is expected,” etc. But what struck me most were your personal stories. You told us about how, when you were a young prosecutor, you were running to a movie only to be stopped by police in Georgetown because of your skin color. You told us that you have carried around a clipping in your wallet from 1971—words spoken by Reverend Samuel Proctor that resonate with me to this very day.
“Blackness is another issue entirely apart from class in America,” Proctor said. “No matter how affluent, educated and mobile [a black person] becomes, his race defines him more than anything else.”
You went on to challenge us that we all need to strive to change that reality and bring about a day when Americans would be judged as individuals, not as members of a race. Yours was an inspirational challenge, and I’ve done my best since then to meet it.
As I reflect back on your remarks that day, I am appalled that you have replaced that old clipping with a race card, and seek to exploit our country’s historic tensions for political ends.
“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” you said on ABC earlier this week. “You know, people talking about taking their country back…There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s aracial animus."
What you don’t understand, Mr. Holder, is that there are many of us who are trying to take our country back—back from a group of politicians who seem intent on our destruction as a pillar of strength and liberty in the world. Many of your fellow citizens are dismayed by your conduct, and our anger has nothing to do with the color of your skin.
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