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Eric Holder is the first African-American Attorney General of the United States.
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Judge, lawyer, political advisor. Born Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. on January 21st, 1951, to parents Eric and Miriam Holder in New York City. His mother was a telephone operator, and his father was a real estate broker. His parents both held strong ties to Barbados; his father emigrated from Saint Joseph, and his mother's family emigrated from Saint Philip. The eldest of two brothers, Holder grew up in the predominantly black neighborhood of East Elmhurst, Queens.
Holder attended a public school in his neighborhood until the fourth grade, when he was selected to participate in a program for intellectually gifted children. The school consisted of predominantly white students, which Holder says forced him to keep his "foot in both worlds." This only became more apparent when it came time to attend high school. While his friends at home chose to attend public schools in Queens, Holder's white schoolmates were taking an exam to enter the city's most elite institutions. Holder got into the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, an hour-and-a-half commute from his home, which pulled him even farther away from his neighborhood friends and community.
Holder says he concentrated mainly on his studies in high school, and felt overwhelmed by the rigorous academic demands placed on him at Stuyvesant. But the young man stayed well rounded; he was selected as the captain of the basketball team, and in 1969 he earned his high school diploma, as well as a Regents Scholarship.
That same year, Holder entered college at Columbia University. He played freshman basketball, attended shows at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, spent Saturdays mentoring local kids, and became active in civil rights. He received his bachelor's degree in American history from Columbia University in 1973. In 1974, he began attending Columbia Law School while also clerking for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Department of Justice's Criminal Division.
In 1976, Holder earned his law degree, and The Department of Justice gave him a job as part of the attorney general's honors program. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section, which investigated and prosecuted official corruption on the local, state and federal levels.
In 1988, Holder was nominated by former President Reagan to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. During this time he presided over hundreds of civil and criminal trials. Holder was then nominated by President Clinton to serve as the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C. in 1993. He was the first African-American to serve in the position.
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