Holder Urges Young People to Consider Careers at Justice Department

Susan Jones | April 24, 2014 | 6:34am EDT
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Attorney General Eric Holder (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Students from a Catholic school in San Francisco were in the audience Wednesday when Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech on diversity and inclusion, and urged young people to "consider careers...here at the United States Department of Justice."

"But just so that everybody knows, the kids from St. Ignatius, stand up -- let's -- so that everybody can see who you are. (Applause.) That's the future of our country, and that's why we do what we do here at the United States Department of Justice," Holder said.

After welcoming the St. Ignatius students, Holder explained how the Justice Department "defends the values of diversity and inclusion." (His first example was "voting restrictions.")

Holder also urged young people of diverse backgrounds, including "new immigrants," to consider working at the Justice Department:

"Now, statistics show that in recent years, women and people of color have made up a greater percentage of both licensed lawyers and law students. Progress remains too often slow, and the law continues to lag behind many other fields. So we need to ensure that the coming decades witness an uptick in the numbers of women, people with disabilities, people of color, and new immigrants finding productive avenues into this profession and others across the American workforce."

Holder said the Justice Department must continue to "adjust and adapt" in order to "faithfully serve" an increasingly diverse population:

"And that's why I think it is essential that we redouble our efforts, starting here and starting right now, to ensure that young people consider careers not just in public service, not just in the legal profession, not just in law enforcement, but here at the United States Department of Justice, a department that is representative of the nation that we protect and that we serve, a department that's prepared to compete for the most qualified people in America, and a department that's equipped to empower each of them to develop their skills and bring their talents to bear in service of their fellow citizens."

Holder then reminded his audience that just because he and President Obama are black men in powerful positions, the country's "long struggle to overcome disparity and discrimination" has not ended.

"Now, I know it may be tempting -- it may be tempting for some, when they look at the accomplished professionals in this room or the lawyer who works in the Oval Office or consider the fact that I have the privilege of serving as the attorney general of the United States, to feel that this country's long struggle to overcome disparity and discrimination has ended. But as Justice Sonia Sotomayor said just yesterday in her courageous and very personal dissent in the Michigan college admissions case, we ought not, and I quote, 'wish away rather than confront the racial inequality that exists in our society. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race,' end quote."

Holder continued: "The reality is that, as you all know, and as many of you see in your work each day, this great country still has a great way to go before our founding promise of equal justice and equal opportunity is fully realized, and progress will require not just open and honest dialogue, but a willingness to confront these difficult issues through principled action to address and to remediate the lingering impacts of racial discrimination."

Holder also touted his own efforts to "foster increased diversity" at the Justice Department.

"Together, we have developed initiatives like the Diversity and Inclusion Dialogue Program, a six-month pilot program under which five DOJ components...will convene discussions related to diversity in our workforce. They will address topics like self-identity and privilege, gender and generational differences, race and sexual orientation."

According to the St. Ignatius website, the boys' lacrosse team was on the East Coast to compete, and they made time to visit the Justice Department.

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