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Kenneth Mack

to Eric H. Holder, Sr., a Realtor who emigrated from Barbados, and Miriam Holder (formerly Miriam Rosalie Yearwood), an Episcopal Church secretary, who was a New Jersey native of Barbadian ancestry. Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. grew up in a black middle class enclave in East Elmhurst, Queens. His life took a significant turn when his test scores earned him a place as one of the few black students admitted to Stuyvesant High School, where he played basketball before attending Columbia College (B.A., American History, 1973), and Columbia Law School (J.D., 1976). The tall (six feet, three inches) and popular Holder, called “Ricky” in his youth, entered Columbia at a turbulent time in its history, and participated in a black student takeover of the school’s former ROTC office, as well as a program to mentor poor Harlem children on the weekends.

Upon graduation from law school Holder began his ...


Samuel Brenner

lawyer, U.S. attorney general, U.S. senator, civil rights advocate, and presidential candidate. Robert Francis “Bobby” Kennedy, the energetic and enthusiastic younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and the older brother of longtime Massachusetts Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, was a civil servant who, although he had complicated and difficult relationships with several important African American leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., became increasingly liberal and devoted to the cause of civil rights after serving as attorney general in the 1960s.

Kennedy, born in Brookline, Massachusetts, was the seventh child of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy. Joseph Kennedy, who harbored enormous ambitions for his family, was a controversial figure accused of being—while serving from 1938 to 1940 as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom—an anti-Semite interested in appeasing Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany Having attended several private boarding schools Robert Kennedy served in the U S Navy ...


Kevin R. Gutzman

Roger Brooke Taney is generally considered to be both one of the great American judges and one of the leading opponents of African Americans in history. Don E. Fehrenbacher, historian of the 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, regards Taney's opinion in that case as the logical extension of the principles announced by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison (1803), a case establishing that the “essence of judicial duty” is to decide which laws conform to the Constitution. One Taney biographer opines that Taney, in his opinions, presented the most coherent elaboration of Jacksonian democracy. All of these characterizations are well deserved.

Born into a prominent Maryland Catholic family Taney early demonstrated outstanding academic ability by graduating from Dickinson College at age eighteen Having completed the four year course of study in three years Taney was his class s elected valedictorian Because his father ...