Former US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. gives the keynote address July 24 at the Clarence M. Mitchell Luncheon where he spoke on the need for NAACP members to fight for voting rights. His remarks were made during the 108th annual NAACP convention in Baltimore. (Roy Lewis/Washington Informer)
Former US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. gives the keynote address July 24 at the Clarence M. Mitchell Luncheon where he spoke on the need for NAACP members to fight for voting rights. His remarks were made during the 108th annual NAACP convention in Baltimore. (Roy Lewis/Washington Informer)

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder found himself at the center of a series of daylong discussions on the criminal justice system, politics and race Monday as the NAACP convenes this week for the organization’s 108th annual convention at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.
Holder, who listed among a slate of major decision makers and movers and shakers at the huge gathering that ends on Wednesday, served as the guest speaker for more 200 hundred people during a luncheon at the downtown convention center named after Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., a chief lobbyist for the NAACP, who died in 1984.
While Holder touched on a variety of topics, he focused on the Trump administration’s plan to eliminate voter fraud, which will decrease minorities’ and young adults’ representation at the polls.
“Some Republicans have decided that if you can’t beat them, change the rules,” Holder said. “History will be harsh on these efforts. Too many actions are shameful … and un-American.”
Holder, who served under former President Barack Obama, suggested polling sites rather than just designating a Tuesday to hold primary and general elections. That way, he said, more people would be provided an opportunity to vote.
“Only, we the people, can bring about meaningful change. So, speak up. Don’t be afraid,” said Holder. “Don’t worry about being the subject of a tweet.”
Prior to Holder’s remarks, CNN commentator and political strategist Angela Rye moderated a one-hour plenary session focused on how blacks can improve the legal justice system.
One of the eight people on the panel was Colin Warner, a Trinidad-born resident of the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. In 1980 at age 18, Warner was convicted in the shooting death of a 16-year-old boy. He served more than 20 years in prison before being freed in 2001.
Warner’s life will be featured in the new film, “Crown Heights,” to be shown on Aug. 25 at select theaters.
“What I hope you get from the movie … is love, togetherness,” Warner said. “We have a lot of time to lay under the ground. Why don’t we do something while we’re up here,” he asked.
Georgetown University professor and author Michael Eric Dyson talked about going to visit his brother in Detroit who’s been in prison for 28 years.
He mentioned how the justice system gives leniency to White people, such as former Stanford University student Brock Turner, accused of rape at a 2015 fraternity party . He served half of a six-months sentence.
“Your children are targeted for specific slots in prison and in jail,” Dyson said. “Mass incarceration suggests that a disproportionate number of people of color are subject to this for doing the same offenses that Whites and other people commit. We have to reform a criminal justice system that is unjust to us.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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