Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation announcement in September spurred an outpouring of mixed emotions from politicians and public figures. While Holder faced criticism for the Justice Department’s prosecution of whistleblowers and handling of white-collar crime during his six-year tenure with the Obama administration, his strong civil rights legacy may overshadow his missteps.
In an interview with HuffPost Live, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates lauded Holder as the "mensch" of the Obama administration, thanks to his tough stance on race issues.
“He stood up for the law, the truth of the law, the racial complexity of America. When the right wanted to turn back things like the Voting Rights Act, Eric [said] no,” Gates said. “He’s been the moral compass of Barack Obama’s administration. He’s been the race man and the point man for standing up against anti-black racism and other forms of color-based discrimination, anti-gay feelings.”
Although Gates appreciated the prevalence of high-profile black leaders, the Harvard professor and executive producer of “Finding Your Roots” said the United States has yet to become a post-racial utopia.
“I don’t know who invented this myth of a post-racial [society]. I think because we have a black man in the White House -- I think that’s the logic,” he said. “Nothing about the world had fundamentally changed to lead us to conclude that America was post-racial. Even the people who trumpeted that in that glow, the afterglow of President Obama’s first election, I don’t think anybody would say that today.”
Watch the clips above to hear more from HuffPost Live's interview with Henry Louis Gates.
Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!