Eric Holder's Life and Times in the Obama Administration

A look back at some of the challenges Holder faced.

It's Official - Attorney General Eric Holder, the longest-serving member of President Obama's cabinet, announced his resignation in September. And as the president said at the unveiling of Holder's official portrait, it is a "bittersweet" goodbye. In the past six years, there have been many bumps in the road, from the tragic shooting deaths of innocent children and African-American men to a contempt vote by the GOP-led House of Representatives. Through it all, Holder has held his head high and stood his ground. Here are some of the highlights of his Obama years.  ? Joyce Jones (@BETpolitichick)(Photo: United States Department of Justice)

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It's Official - Attorney General Eric Holder, the longest-serving member of President Obama's cabinet, announced his resignation in September. And as the president said at the unveiling of Holder's official portrait, it is a "bittersweet" goodbye. In the past six years, there have been many bumps in the road, from the tragic shooting deaths of innocent children and African-American men to a contempt vote by the GOP-led House of Representatives. Through it all, Holder has held his head high and stood his ground. Here are some of the highlights of his Obama years.  — Joyce Jones (@BETpolitichick)(Photo: United States Department of Justice)

A Historic Pick - History was made in December 2008 when Obama formally nominated Holder to serve as the nation's first African-American attorney general. The president-elect said in his remarks that Holder had "the talent and commitment to succeed ? from his first day on the job, which is even more important in a transition that demands vigilance." In addition, he added, Holder also had "the combination of toughness and independence that we need at the Justice Department."(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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A Historic Pick - History was made in December 2008 when Obama formally nominated Holder to serve as the nation's first African-American attorney general. The president-elect said in his remarks that Holder had "the talent and commitment to succeed … from his first day on the job, which is even more important in a transition that demands vigilance." In addition, he added, Holder also had "the combination of toughness and independence that we need at the Justice Department."(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A Tough Crowd - Holder faced some tough questions about his past service at the Justice Department from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing on Jan. 15, 2009.  "This is the fourth time I have come before the Senate for confirmation to a position in law enforcement. I served almost 30 years as a prosecutor, judge, and senior official within the Department of Justice," he said. "President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden asked me to assume this responsibility because they know I will fight terrorism with every available tool at my disposal and reinvigorate the department's traditional missions of protecting public safety and safeguarding our precious civil rights."    (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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A Tough Crowd - Holder faced some tough questions about his past service at the Justice Department from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing on Jan. 15, 2009.  "This is the fourth time I have come before the Senate for confirmation to a position in law enforcement. I served almost 30 years as a prosecutor, judge, and senior official within the Department of Justice," he said. "President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden asked me to assume this responsibility because they know I will fight terrorism with every available tool at my disposal and reinvigorate the department's traditional missions of protecting public safety and safeguarding our precious civil rights." (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Pledge - After the Senate confirmed Holder by a vote of 75 to 21, Holder is sworn in as U.S. attorney general by Vice President Joe Biden as Holder's wife, Sharon Malone, holds the Bible during a ceremony at the Justice Department.  (Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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The Pledge - After the Senate confirmed Holder by a vote of 75 to 21, Holder is sworn in as U.S. attorney general by Vice President Joe Biden as Holder's wife, Sharon Malone, holds the Bible during a ceremony at the Justice Department. (Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Jumping Right In It - ?Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot,? Holder said in a speech given during Black History Month in 2009, ?In things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.?   (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Jumping Right In It - “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot,” Holder said in a speech given during Black History Month in 2009, “In things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Indefensible - In February 2011, the attorney general announced that his department would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages. "After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny," he said.  (Photo: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS/LANDOV)

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Indefensible - In February 2011, the attorney general announced that his department would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages. "After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny," he said. (Photo: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS/LANDOV)

Everybody Was Furious - One of the biggest controversies of Holder's tenure at the Justice Department was Operation Fast and Furious, a failed gun running program that led to the death of a border control officer. When the attorney general refused to turn over certain documents, the House, in 2012, voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.  (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Everybody Was Furious - One of the biggest controversies of Holder's tenure at the Justice Department was Operation Fast and Furious, a failed gun running program that led to the death of a border control officer. When the attorney general refused to turn over certain documents, the House, in 2012, voted to hold him in contempt of Congress. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Saddest Day - In December 2012, the unthinkable happened at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut. "That was the roughest I had as AG: to go up there and meet with first responders and the crime scene search officers, the crime scene itself, the school had not been cleaned in any way. There was blood on the walls, blood in the carpets and a particular bathroom where the kids had been piled up," Holder told BET.com. "There were a lot of tears that day from these hardened, experienced police officers and from me as well as they took me around to show me the different classrooms. I think about those brave adults who died trying to protect those kids." (Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)

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The Saddest Day - In December 2012, the unthinkable happened at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut. "That was the roughest I had as AG: to go up there and meet with first responders and the crime scene search officers, the crime scene itself, the school had not been cleaned in any way. There was blood on the walls, blood in the carpets and a particular bathroom where the kids had been piled up," Holder told BET.com. "There were a lot of tears that day from these hardened, experienced police officers and from me as well as they took me around to show me the different classrooms. I think about those brave adults who died trying to protect those kids." (Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Standing Firm - On July 16, 2013, in remarks delivered at the NAACP national convention, Holder condemned "Stand Your Ground" laws. "By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety," he said. The list of resulting tragedies is long and ? unfortunately ? has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our collective obligation ? we must stand our ground ? to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.   (Photo: Tim Boyles/Getty Images)

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Standing Firm - On July 16, 2013, in remarks delivered at the NAACP national convention, Holder condemned "Stand Your Ground" laws. "By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety," he said. The list of resulting tragedies is long and – unfortunately – has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our collective obligation – we must stand our ground – to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.  (Photo: Tim Boyles/Getty Images)

It's Time to Talk - Dealing with the shooting deaths of children is one of the major lows that comes with the job of being attorney general. After George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, Holder saw it as an opportunity to have an honest talk about race. "I hope that we will approach this necessarily difficult dialogue with the same dignity that those who have lost the most, Trayvon's parents, have demonstrated throughout the last year ? and especially over the past few days," he said at the Delta Sigma Theta conference in 2013. "They suffered a pain that no parent should have to endure ? and one that I, as a father, cannot begin to conceive."   (Photo: Mark Gail/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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It's Time to Talk - Dealing with the shooting deaths of children is one of the major lows that comes with the job of being attorney general. After George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, Holder saw it as an opportunity to have an honest talk about race. "I hope that we will approach this necessarily difficult dialogue with the same dignity that those who have lost the most, Trayvon's parents, have demonstrated throughout the last year – and especially over the past few days," he said at the Delta Sigma Theta conference in 2013. "They suffered a pain that no parent should have to endure – and one that I, as a father, cannot begin to conceive." (Photo: Mark Gail/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Race Matters - Soon after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, Holder traveled to Ferguson, Missouri, to meet with law enforcement and to comfort a community. ?I am the attorney general of the United States,? he told a group of local college students in St. Louis County. ?But I am also a Black man.?
  (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)

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Race Matters - Soon after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, Holder traveled to Ferguson, Missouri, to meet with law enforcement and to comfort a community. “I am the attorney general of the United States,” he told a group of local college students in St. Louis County. “But I am also a Black man.”
 (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)

Never Giving Up - At the 2014 CBCF annual legislative conference, the attorney general vowed to fight for voting rights until his last day in office. "In the months ahead ? as we prepare for the upcoming elections ? leaders from the Civil Rights Division?s Voting Section will be coordinating with civil rights organizations, U.S. attorneys, and others to dispatch federal election monitors to polling places around the country, just as we do routinely during every election season," he said. "We will never waver, and never rest, in our determination to ensure the integrity and impartiality of this vital process."   (Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

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Never Giving Up - At the 2014 CBCF annual legislative conference, the attorney general vowed to fight for voting rights until his last day in office. "In the months ahead — as we prepare for the upcoming elections — leaders from the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section will be coordinating with civil rights organizations, U.S. attorneys, and others to dispatch federal election monitors to polling places around the country, just as we do routinely during every election season," he said. "We will never waver, and never rest, in our determination to ensure the integrity and impartiality of this vital process." (Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

Bittersweet - On Sept. 25, 2014, Holder announced plans to step down. ?I have loved the Department of Justice ever since as a young boy I watched Robert Kennedy prove during the civil rights movement how the department can ? and must ? always be a force for that which is right,? Holder said at the formal announcement at the White House. ?I hope that I have done honor to the faith you placed in me, Mr. President, and to the legacy of all those that served before me.? (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Bittersweet - On Sept. 25, 2014, Holder announced plans to step down. “I have loved the Department of Justice ever since as a young boy I watched Robert Kennedy prove during the civil rights movement how the department can — and must — always be a force for that which is right,” Holder said at the formal announcement at the White House. “I hope that I have done honor to the faith you placed in me, Mr. President, and to the legacy of all those that served before me.” (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

One Regret - If Holder had to name one regret, it would be that he was unable to overhaul the nation's gun control laws after the tragedy at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut. "I know the nation was ready; all of the polls indicated that [it] was ready for really basic, common sense gun safety rules but Congress for whatever reason simply didn't pass them. I think that would be my biggest disappointment," he told BET.com. "I've questioned myself. I've talked to Vice President Biden ? he and I led the administration's [gun control] effort ? to think of things we might have done differently. I'm not sure there were things we could have done differently, but I certainly wish we had a different result." (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

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One Regret - If Holder had to name one regret, it would be that he was unable to overhaul the nation's gun control laws after the tragedy at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut. "I know the nation was ready; all of the polls indicated that [it] was ready for really basic, common sense gun safety rules but Congress for whatever reason simply didn't pass them. I think that would be my biggest disappointment," he told BET.com. "I've questioned myself. I've talked to Vice President Biden — he and I led the administration's [gun control] effort — to think of things we might have done differently. I'm not sure there were things we could have done differently, but I certainly wish we had a different result." (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Change Is Coming - On Dec. 1, 2014, Holder announced plans to end racial profiling by law enforcement. "In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement, which will institute rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling, once and for all," said Holder in remarks delivered at Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. "This new guidance will codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing." (Photo: REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

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Change Is Coming - On Dec. 1, 2014, Holder announced plans to end racial profiling by law enforcement. "In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement, which will institute rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling, once and for all," said Holder in remarks delivered at Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. "This new guidance will codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing." (Photo: REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Why the Wait? - More than five months after her nomination, Loretta Lynch is still waiting for a confirmation vote from the Senate. "You would actually think that her process would be sped up given their desire to see me out of office," says Holder. "Be that as it may, logic has never been necessarily a guide up there."  (Photo: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST/LANDOV)

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Why the Wait? - More than five months after her nomination, Loretta Lynch is still waiting for a confirmation vote from the Senate. "You would actually think that her process would be sped up given their desire to see me out of office," says Holder. "Be that as it may, logic has never been necessarily a guide up there." (Photo: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST/LANDOV)

A Bittersweet Farewell - On Feb. 27, 2015, Obama gave Holder an emotional send-off at which the attorney general was also serenaded by the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. "Having good men in positions of power and authority who are willing to fight for what's right ? that's a rare thing. That's a powerful thing. It's something that shapes our future in ways we don't even understand," said the president. "With Eric Holder as its lawyer, America has become a better country. Saying goodbye is bittersweet. You have done a remarkable job. It's hard to let you go."(Photo: Lonnie Tague)

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A Bittersweet Farewell - On Feb. 27, 2015, Obama gave Holder an emotional send-off at which the attorney general was also serenaded by the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. "Having good men in positions of power and authority who are willing to fight for what's right — that's a rare thing. That's a powerful thing. It's something that shapes our future in ways we don't even understand," said the president. "With Eric Holder as its lawyer, America has become a better country. Saying goodbye is bittersweet. You have done a remarkable job. It's hard to let you go."(Photo: Lonnie Tague)

The Ferguson Report - Holder released on March 4, 2015, the long-awaited report on DOJ's investigation of the patterns and practices of the Ferguson Police Department. ?Seen in this context, amid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings and spurred by illegal and misguided practices, it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg,? Holder said during a news conference. Still, the department could not launch a lawsuit against former police officer Darren Wilson or the police department because the federally required burden of proof is very high.   (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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The Ferguson Report - Holder released on March 4, 2015, the long-awaited report on DOJ's investigation of the patterns and practices of the Ferguson Police Department. “Seen in this context, amid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings and spurred by illegal and misguided practices, it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg,” Holder said during a news conference. Still, the department could not launch a lawsuit against former police officer Darren Wilson or the police department because the federally required burden of proof is very high. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

We Shall Overcome - ?The times change, the issues seem different, but the solutions are timeless and tested: Question authority and the old ways,? Holder said during impassioned remarks delivered at the Brown Chapel AME Church during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. ?Work. Struggle. Challenge entrenched power. Persevere. Overcome.?  (Photo: Lonnie Tague)

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We Shall Overcome - “The times change, the issues seem different, but the solutions are timeless and tested: Question authority and the old ways,” Holder said during impassioned remarks delivered at the Brown Chapel AME Church during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. “Work. Struggle. Challenge entrenched power. Persevere. Overcome.” (Photo: Lonnie Tague)

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Where It All Began - "The reality is that I would not be the attorney general of the United States but for the fact that people sacrificed, took a huge amount of risks in order to assure that African-Americans would have the right to vote, which resulted, I think ultimately, in the election of Barack Obama as president and his decision to nominate me to be attorney general," Holder told BET.com, adding that they risked and sacrificed everything. (Photo: Lonnie Tague)