On Wednesday U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged activists with the National Action Network — a protest organization founded and run by MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton — to help President Barack Obama’s administration promote its agenda.
The pillars of advocacy Holder pushed for during the speech, he said, “cannot be the work of government alone.”
“We will continue to need your help, your expertise, your dedication and your partnership,” Holder told Sharpton’s activists. “While I’m optimistic about the path that we’re on and the place that we’ll arrive, I cannot pretend that the road ahead will be an easy one. Many obstacles lie before us.”
“This — this — is our moment,” Holder added as the crowd cheered. “So let us seize the chance before us. Let us rise to the challenges of our time.”
It’s unclear if Obama agrees with Holder using his government position to rally members of Sharpton’s organization, but Holder did open his speech with a presidential hello. “I’m honored to be included in this annual gathering once again and bring greetings from a friend of mine, President Obama,” Holder said.
During the delayed speech — Holder was more than a half-hour late — Holder also said he believes the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. directly led to the election of Obama as president and his appointment as Attorney General.
“Although 44 years have passed since our nation first mourned the loss of Dr. King, it is clear that his spirit lives on,” Holder said. “His enduring contributions have allowed me to stand as our nation’s first African American Attorney General and to serve alongside our first African American president.”
Holder added that he thinks King’s legacy “inspired countless acts of compassion and collaboration,” including the “founding of the National Action Network.”
“Since then, this organization’s leaders, members and supporters have been on the front lines of our nation’s fight to ensure security, opportunity and justice for all.”
Holder said there are “ordinary people nationwide of all races, ages and backgrounds,” who “refuse to allow fear and frustration to divide the American people.”
“In recent weeks, in the wake of a tragedy [the Trayvon Martin case] that we’re struggling to understand, [Americans] have called not just for answers and for justice, but also for civility and unity and for a national discourse that is productive, respectful and worthy of both our forbearers and our children,” Holder said.
Holder declined to share details of the Department of Justice’s investigation into whether there was a civil rights crime committed when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. Even so, Holder did say that “in recent weeks Justice Department officials including Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Tom Perez and United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Bob O’Neill have traveled to Sanford, Fla., to meet with the Martin family, the community and the local authorities.”
“Although I cannot share where this investigation will lead us from here, I can assure you that in this investigation and in all cases, we will examine the facts and the law,” Holder added. “If we find evidence of a potential federal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action and at every step, the facts and the law will guide us forward.”
DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler did not respond when The Daily Caller asked her if Holder’s logic on potential civil rights crimes applies equally to the New Black Panther Party. George Zimmerman’s family has alleged that Holder is not pursuing the New Black Panthers for potential hate crimes because, like them, he is black.