Today the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) announced that former United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. will join the organization’s National Board of Directors. Holder was the first African-American Attorney General of the United States, who was appointed by the first African-American president of the United States.
Mr. Holder, who in addition to serving as Attorney General, is a former judge of the District of Columbia Superior Court. He is currently a partner at the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., where he also practiced from 2001 to 2009. Mr. Holder’s first connection with the LDF was in 1974 when he served as a legal intern at the civil rights organization during the summer after his first year at Columbia Law School. The LDF has been an entirely separate organization from the NAACP for over fifty years.
“I’m honored to join the board of this extraordinary organization. It’s been a long journey since I began as an intern at LDF more than forty years ago, “ Holder noted. “But LDF has remained constant in its excellence, its leadership and its commitment to the principle of equal justice under law.” Last year, Holder received the LDF’s highest honor, the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award, named for LDF’s founder who later became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.
Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s current President and Director-Counsel has frequently praised Holder during his time as Attorney General. “I have been unequivocal in my admiration for Mr. Holder’s leadership. He presided over the restoration of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, launched the groundbreaking criminal justice reforms of President Obama, and confronted the challenges in Ferguson, Missouri with tremendous sensitivity during a volatile time in our nation,” she stated.
LDF Board Co-Chairs David Mills and Gerald Adolph were equally effusive about Mr. Holder’s agreement to join the LDF board. “We could not be more pleased that Mr. Holder has decided to join our board. His leadership and commitment to civil rights are unparalleled,” said Mr. Adolph, a Principal with PwC Strategy&. Philanthropist and Stanford Law Professor David Mills similarly praised Holder, describing him as “the perfect fit for LDF’s board. We are honored and lucky to have him.”
Upon taking office as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States in 2009, Holder vowed to make the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division its most valuable asset. He succeeded in this mission with a six-year tenure defined by exceptional leadership on voting rights and a steadfast commitment to criminal justice reforms, ranging from the improvement of legal services for low income citizens to addressing the problem of mass incarceration. Holder’s ‘Smart on Crime’ initiative, which called for major changes to drug sentencing, the release of elderly prisoners and a decreased length of non-violent crime sentences, were bold measures that will continue to have a major impact on African-American communities and are emblematic of LDF’s vision of justice.
Holder joins a growing list of influential lawyers and business leaders who recently joined LDF’s board. Last year, LDF welcomed Michelle Roberts, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association; Kim Koopersmith, Partner and Chairperson at Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld; Damien Dwin, Managing Partner of Brightwood Capital Advisors; and Robyn Coles, CEO of TRATE Enterprises to its Board.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.