TheGrio’s 100: Eric Holder, law enforcer in-chief

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In February 2009, when Vice President Joe Biden swore in Eric Holder as America’s 82nd attorney general, it was fitting that the ceremony took place during Black History Month.

That’s because Holder, 58, made history as the first African-American to become the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

Appointed by President Barack Obama after advising his campaign on legal issues, Holder hit the ground running. His office has tackled everything from alleged CIA interrogations of terrorists, to financial misconduct involving international banks.

Holder has the experience to handle such issues. He’s also won the confidence of previous commanders-in-chief.

WATCH ERIC HOLDER DISCUSS TEEN VIOLENCE IN AMERICA

In 1997, he was tapped by then-President Bill Clinton to be the deputy attorney general, again, the first African-American so named. When Ronald Reagan was President, he nominated Holder to become an associate judge of the Superior Court in Washington D.C.

Along the way, Holder has served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and as a litigation partner at Covington & Burling LLP in the capital.

The son of parents with roots in Barbados, Holder was born in Queens, New York. He attended public schools, and graduated from Stuyvesant High School with a scholarship. From there, the high achiever attended Columbia College, majoring in American history.

Holder’s next stop was Columbia Law School. While a law student, he clerked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and with the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.

After graduating from law school in 1976, Holder moved to Washington and joined the Justice Department as part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. In the Public Integrity Section, Holder worked on local, state and federal levels to investigate and prosecute official corruption.

This served as early training for some of Holder’s current responsibilities. He’s said his office will strengthen civil rights enforcement, for instance. As the nation ponders health care matters, his office has already prosecuted health care fraud.

Finally, as the U.S. and other countries grapple with such seminal issues as the release of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, terrorist suspects and more, it’s a safe bet that Eric Holder will continue to be front and center.