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An Enduring Impact: Attorney General Eric Holder on Public Service

On Thursday, April 22nd, Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the importance of public service with students, faculty and administrators from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The Attorney General implored students to give back to their communities, no matter what profession they choose in the future.

"In whatever profession you decide to pursue you must always find a way to be a public servant, a servant of the people. As you find your calling and pursue your own success, I hope you will also seek out ways to assist those who need your help. Anyone can – and, I believe, everyone who’s had the privilege of a Vassar education should – work to make a positive and enduring impact on the world we all share and the future we all seek... "Public service must go beyond simply writing a check to a good cause. Of course, donations are a good start, but human contact, real involvement, is far more important. As you look for ways to help others, I hope you will resist the temptation to sit on the sidelines. There is simply still too much need, too much suffering and too much work yet to be done."

Attorney General Holder also discussed Vassar College’s rich tradition of standing up for justice and helping others, specifically citing Vassar’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.

Half a century ago, Vassar students were among our nation’s most vocal advocates for social justice and civil rights. In 1960, just weeks after the first lunch counter sit-in took place in North Carolina, Vassar students picketed the Poughkeepsie Woolworth store in solidarity with the hundreds of students who were combating segregation across the south. Two years later, the Vassar-Mississippi Action Committee was launched out of concern for the safety of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. When Meredith attempted to attend classes, violent – and deadly – riots broke out. In response, this committee reached out to Congress, to President Kennedy, and to my predecessor, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, calling on their continued support for civil rights and equal access to education."

After delivering remarks, Attorney General Holder answered questions from students and faculty. The Q&A session was moderated by Judge Richard Roberts, a Vassar alumnus. The questions posed to the Attorney General ranged from health care reform to national security policy to prison reform.

Updated March 3, 2017