Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. today urged employees to take advantage of black history month to begin a frank dialogue about race, labeling the United States a "nation of cowards" for its refusal to discuss the country's checkered history openly. Speaking of which, try not to forget the lunch next week that the Broward County Young Lawyers are sponsoring in the Tower Club, featuring H. George Allen as the featured speaker.
Holder, the first African American to serve as the country's top law enforcement officer, said that Justice Department workers carry a special responsibility to acknowledge social limits and to burst through them. The department's civil rights division, which was initially founded to help civil rights freedom riders and students seeking to integrate public schools, more recently has been the target of criticism from Democrats who say it has lost its way. And it has. It needs new direction and purpose.
Holder told employees that the level of interaction among people of different races is "bleak" and in many ways does not "differ significantly from the country that existed some fifty years ago."
"If we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about racial matters that continue to divide us," he added.
Cool. Transparency. A willingness to discuss divisions. Overcome differences. And in Broward County, where blacks were once not allowed east of US 1 after 6 p.m., this is a place where we need to progress. Maybe 4 0f our 90 jurists are African American, one county commissioner, the numbers do not lie. We are way behind the curve.