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VOL. 133 | NO. 66 | Monday, April 2, 2018

Holder: After King, Political System is 'Far From Fair'

By Bill Dries

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Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a University of Memphis and National Civil Rights Museum symposium Monday, April 2, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped create “a new country” in 39 years of life but that “it is necessary to be indignant and be impatient” 50 years after King’s death.

Holder, who was the nation’s first African-American attorney general, told the MLK50 symposium crowd of 700 at the Peabody hotel that voting rights remain just as important an issue as they were in King’s day and criticized claims of voter fraud used to call for more forms of identification to vote.

Eric Holder

He also said he is dissatisfied that “simply acknowledging black lives matter too is somehow controversial.”

“I am dissatisfied that I had to have the talk with my teenaged son – a conversation that so many black families in America have had in order to protect their children about how to safely interact with law enforcement,” Holder said. “All of this remains under siege. To me this question of voting is the chief civil rights issue of our times. … Voting is not a privilege. It is a right.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama introduced Holder at the luncheon.

Jones also said King’s dreams and goals are unrealized although he said King’s movement has changed the nation and the South in particular.

“Fifty years later his influence can be seen in all of our lives, every day. You see it in the kinds of schools our children attend, where we eat, where we gather, where we work,” Jones said. “But as we all know too well, Dr. King’s dream has not been fully realized. And in many respects it seems we have been backsliding. We’ve been sliding a little back on voting rights, access to the ballot box. We’ve been sliding back in the area of criminal justice reform. We’ve been sliding backward by empowering white supremacists and white nationalists.”

Holder also criticized the country’s political system.

“Our nation’s policies are determined by those who serve in elected office. We must make certain that these representatives accurately reflect the choices of the American electorate,” he said. “Our political system is far from fair. … It is rigged by racial and partisan gerrymandering.”

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