Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Urges Students to Continue the Legacy of the Civil Rights Era

Photos by Mark Veals; courtesy Xavier University of Louisiana

Jordan Booker Data News Weekly Contributor

As the countdown to the U.S. midterm elections began in October, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reminded young people to stay engaged and active in the political process. He urged students at Xavier University of Louisiana to use their voices through voting as he spoke at Xavier’s Founder’s Day Convocation earlier this month in the University Center Ballroom during a visit to New Orleans.

“We have got to recognize that the power still resides with us, and especially with young people,” Holder told the graduating class of 2023 and first year students who attended the Founder’s Convocation. “You all are now the largest voting bloc in this country, you have the greatest power as a bloc than any other bloc in this country and yet you don’t exercise that power,” Holder said.

Holder and Xavier’s President Dr. Reynold Verret discussed voting rights and the steps that Xavier students could take to preserve and sustain the fight that was started during the Civil Rights Era. Holder reminded students of the trailblazing work of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in securing the voting rights African Americans now have today. Holder’s new book “Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote – A History, A Crisis, A Plan” was given to each freshman that attended the event to motivate them to continue the legacy started by the Civil Rights icons.

“Holder is an internationally recognized leader across a broad range of regulatory enforcement, criminal justice, and national security issues,” said Munachismo Ugoh, the President of the Student Government Association. “In 2015, Mr. Holder joined the Xavier family, our family, the XU family; earning an honorary degree from Xavier University of Louisiana,” Ugoh said in his introduction of the guest speaker.

The former attorney general shared with students his background in government and politics to inspire them to take up careers in this field, during this Convocation remarks. The Founder’s Day Convocation is an annual calendar event for Xavier that takes place to commemorate the official founding of the institution by St. Katherine Drexel. The event is also used to celebrate the upcoming graduating class and to acknowledge all the challenging work of the faculty of the university.

“This commemorates the day when there was an enormous procession and a very important ceremony on the quad side of the main building when our campus was inaugurated. And that day was started because this is the same day that Xavier in its first iteration on Magazine Street opened in 1915- 1916,” said Dr. Anne McCall, the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Holder left the students with a call to action to secure their future and to get involved in protecting their rights for the next generation.
“You’re the leaders of this country going forward and unless you all dedicate yourselves to making this country better it’s not going to happen. You can’t wait for other people, the calvary is not coming. You all are the calvary,” Holder said.

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