The former top law enforcement official in the United States, Eric Holder, will serve as keynote speaker for Saginaw Valley State University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Over his career, Holder was appointed to various law enforcement-related positions by four U.S. presidents from both sides of the political aisle. Most recently, President Barack Obama nominated Holder as U.S. attorney general. When the 82nd attorney general took office in February 2009, he was the first black person to serve in that position. When he stepped down in April 2015, he was the third-longest-serving attorney general in the nation’s history.
Holder, named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2014, visits SVSU Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.
The event, part of the Eighth Annual Great Lakes Bay Regional MLK Jr. Celebration, is free and open to the public, although attendees must acquire a free ticket for admission. To pick up tickets, visit the main desk on the second floor in SVSUs Ryder Center, just inside the doors at the top of the north ramp. Individuals can acquire up to four tickets. Individuals needing more than four tickets will be placed on a waiting list.
Holder first joined the Department of Justice through the attorney general’s Honors Program after earning his Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School in 1976. The New York City native was assigned to the new Public Integrity Section, where he investigated and prosecuted corruption involving officials in local, state and federal government.
Before Obama nominated Holder in 2009, three earlier U.S. presidents asked him to serve in various roles. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan appointed Holder as associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Holder as the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. In 1997, Clinton appointed Holder as deputy attorney general of the United States. At the request of President George W. Bush, Holder served as acting attorney general in 2001 pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft.
In July 2001, Holder joined Covington & Burling as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice group, where he represented clients in complex civil and criminal cases as well as internal corporate investigations. He returned to the firm in 2015 following his tenure as attorney general.
Holder has made headlines in recent weeks.
In October, it was announced he would serve as chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which will in part seek to move the redistricting process from a partisan process into an open and transparent nonpartisan process.
In November, he called for the abolishment of the electoral college system — used in the elections of United States presidents — in favor of a popular vote system. Debate about the merits of both processes heated up after Donald Trump was elected president by earning more electoral college votes despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
Holder’s many civic commitments over his career have included service on the boards of Columbia University, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Meyer Foundation and the Save the Children Foundation, among many others. He also served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission Ad Hoc Advisory Group.
Holder has received numerous awards and honorary degrees in recognition of his professional and civic contributions, including the NAACP “Chairman’s Award,” the Department of Justice’s “John F. Keeney Award,” the District of Columbia Bar Association’s “Beatrice Rosenberg Award,” George Washington University’s “Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal for Outstanding Service in Human Rights,” and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights’ “Robert F. Kennedy Justice Prize.” The District of Columbia Bar Association has recognized Holder as its “Lawyer of the Year,” and in 2008, the Legal Times named him as one of the “Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Past 30 Years.”
Those attending the event must issue a government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license. Large baggage, including backpacks, briefcases, large umbrellas and other oversized items will not be allowed in the Malcolm Field Theatre.