Signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. [LBJ Library photo #A1030-19a by Yoichi Okamoto]

Holder hopes defense of civil rights will be his legacy

Jul 30, 2013

by Sari Horwitz
[published on July 29, 2013 in The Washington Post]

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was getting ready to give a speech at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin when he glanced up at a giant video screen where old photographs of Johnson were being displayed. He was taken aback by what he saw.

In an image that captured the historic day the president signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a young woman was standing nearby whose face Holder recognized immediately: his late sister-in-law, Vivian Malone, one of two young students who had walked past Gov. George Wallace in 1963 to integrate the University of Alabama.

The first African American attorney general hadn’t known that Malone was with the president when he signed the Voting Rights Act, which would become the cornerstone of modern civil rights law. That emotional day for Holder two years ago, aides say, was a pivotal moment in deepening his already strong commitment to the body of law that protects minority rights. read more