A Friend, a Colleague, and a Leader
Eric Holder’s Speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
Remarks as prepared for delivery
I’ve known Hillary Clinton for almost 25 years — as a friend, a colleague, and a leader of courage and conviction. And today, I am proud to say “I’m with Her!” — because I’ve seen that she has the skills to serve as commander in chief — and the strength to lead our already-great nation in this hour of challenge and consequence.
At a time when the bonds between law enforcement and communities of color have frayed — when assassins target police in heinous attacks, and peaceful citizens have to question whether black lives truly matter — we need a president who understands the reality I saw, in my travels across the country, as our nation’s 82nd Attorney General: that there should be no tension between protecting those who valiantly risk their lives to serve and ensuring that everyone is treated fairly by police.
As the brother of a retired police officer, I am profoundly aware that an attack on a police officer anywhere is an attack on our entire society. So it is not enough for us to praise law enforcement after cops are killed. We must protect them, value them — and equip them with the right tools, tactics, and training — while they are still alive. We must also come to realize that keeping our officers safe is not inconsistent with ensuring that those in law enforcement treat the people they are sworn to serve with dignity, respect, and fairness. We must commit ourselves to both goals.
Hillary understands that the goals we share are the same: safer communities, with less crime, where all our loved ones — police and community residents — come home at night. As President, she will continue the work that needs to be done to rebuild trust, because she knows we are Stronger Together.
At a time when our justice system is out of balance, when one in three black men will be incarcerated in their lifetimes, and when black defendants in the federal system receive sentences 20 percent longer than their white peers, we need a president who will end this policy of over-incarceration. As Attorney General, I launched sweeping reforms of our federal criminal justice system and reduced its reliance on draconian mandatory minimum sentences. As a result, we cut the federal prison population and the crime rate — together — for the first time in more than 40 years.
That’s right: despite the fiction and fearmongering you’ve heard from the other party’s nominee, violent crime has gone down since President Obama took office.
As President, Hillary will go even further. She fought, as a Senator, against sentencing disparities and racial profiling. She used her first major speech, as a candidate, to lay out a bold vision for criminal justice reform. As a presidential candidate she has talked about systemic racism in a way that no one else has. And she will help our nation summon the courage to confront racial injustice — and face down the legacies of our darkest past.
Finally, at a time when the right to vote is under siege — when Republicans brazenly assault the most fundamental right of our democracy — passing laws designed to stop people from voting, while closing locations in minority neighborhoods where people get the documents they need to vote — we need a president sensitive to these echoes of Jim Crow. We need a president who holds the right to vote as sacred and stands firm against any kind of modern-day poll tax.
My fellow Americans: Hillary Clinton will be that president. She will set a new standard for early voting. She will champion universal, automatic registration — you turn 18, you’re registered to vote — because she knows the best way to defend the right to vote is by exercising it.
Throughout history, too many people have sacrificed too much — fought wars, and braved fire hoses, dogs, bullets, and bombs — for this generation to sit on the sidelines.
Never forget that we are heirs to the revolution that began just five miles from where we gather this week and that the choice we face in this pivotal election is about much more than politics.
It’s about the arc we are on, as a nation; the composition of our character, as a people; and the ideals — of equality, opportunity, and justice — that have always made America great.
These are the ideals for which Hillary Clinton has fought her entire life. This is the fight she will continue — when we make history by electing her the 45th President of the United States.