'Talking Out of School' with... Attorney General Eric Holder

This is the first in what will be an occasional series of quick conversations about school with people from different walks of life. Please send suggestions to The Answer Sheet for subjects and school-related questions you would like to see asked.


Eric Holder, the nation’s first African-American attorney general, grew up in Queens, New York, and went to public school. He was selected in fourth grade to be part of a program for intellectually gifted students, and then attended prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City. He attended Columbia University as an undergraduate and also graduated from its law school.


Q) Did you like school?
A) Yes.

Q) What did you like about it?
A) I liked social studies and current events.

Q) How did you do on standardized tests?
A) Pretty well. I did not like taking them though.

Q) How was college?
A) I LOVED college. I was on my own for the first time and was intellectually challenged. I also had huge fun!

Q) What subject did you like best?
A) American history.

Q) What was your worst subject?
A) Calculus.

Q) How badly did you do?
A) What’s lower than an “F?”

Q) Who was your favorite teacher and what made this person so great?
A) Eric Foner and Fritz Stern. They were brilliant, dedicated and committed to students.

Q) What grades?
A) Kindergarten and elementary.

Q) Who was your worst teacher and what made him/her so bad? No names needed, but welcome.
A) A guy who seemed to dislike his job and kids.

Q) Did something ever happen in school that still haunts you?
A) Not really.

Q) If you could go back to school now, what would you want to take?
A) I’d want to go back to Columbia College and study the 20th Century.

Q) What courses would you say every college student should take today?
A) History, Astronomy, Literature


Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

By Valerie Strauss  |  October 21, 2009; 11:40 AM ET
 | Tags: Eric Holder, Talking Out of School Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Previous: A real "human calculator"
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Comments

Perhaps someone can correct me.

Eric Holder's parents and grandparents were all of Barbados origin, although this is not widely reported.

"Eric H. Holder, Jr. was born in Queens, New York to parents with roots in Barbados; Holder's father, Eric Himpton Holder, Sr. (1905–1970)was born in Saint Joseph, Barbados, arrived in the United States at the age of 11. He later became a real estate broker. His mother, Miriam, was born in New Jersey, while his maternal grandparents were immigrants from Saint Philip, Barbados."

Given Holder's ancestors are from the Caribbean, not Africa, is "the nation’s first African-American attorney general" really "African-American"?

What is the basis for calling him an African-American?

Posted by: cibor | October 21, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I like this short interview and Mr. Holder's short answers! I do not fault him as much for sometimes poor performance academically as I did Pres. GW Bush because Bush seemed proud to have underperformed and thought it was humorous that he did so, and Holder does not. I think DoJ is in good hands with Holder and that he will go after the criminals for us.

Posted by: daclmi | October 21, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

And Holder is now getting an "F" as Attorney General.

Posted by: Jerzy | October 21, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Cibor - is this a serious question? By looking at him, he seems to have African ancestors which in the US makes him black no matter who his ancestors may comprise. Thus he's a Black American or African-American by naturalization.

If this is your only take-away from this entry then I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: flabbergast | October 21, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Given Holder's ancestors are from the Caribbean, not Africa, is "the nation’s first African-American attorney general" really "African-American"?

What is the basis for calling him an African-American?
____________________________________________

Cibor, do you realize that people from the Caribbean are consider "Americans" too. also do you realize people from the Caribbean are of African descent. Which would make them "African Americans" also. What are they teaching in World History classess nowadays??

Posted by: redskinsgirl | October 21, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

An F in calculus.

Hmmm... a white guy cannot even have his application looked at by admissions at columbia law with such a grade.

I know this for a fact.

Posted by: docwhocuts | October 21, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

One thing is for sure, Attorney Gneral Holder is way smarter than that doofus Cibor, who thinks that a Black person born in the United States is somehow not an African-American. Cibor probably believes that Obama has a Kenyan birth certificate too. Idiot.

Posted by: PepperDr | October 21, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

What does the 'F' in Calculus prove? Not certain, but at least we do not have Eric designing anything within the military complex for high tech weaponry.

Frankly, I am not a fan of Mr. Holder, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt with respect to his legal qualifications. Unfortunately, the US is burdened with an oversupply of law schools and therefore, lawyers in general.

We need to encourage and allow our children to see benefit of working hard to get the 'A' in calculus, physics, chemistry. We need even more Americans to gain advanced degrees in the physical sciences and mathematics. Our standard of living depends on our ability to continually innovate. This is the GAP that should keep our intelligentsia awake at night. The countries of east asia are literally lapping us in this regard.

Posted by: jhpbriton | October 21, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Oprah comes to the Washington Post.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 21, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

i get misty eyed just thinking about, or what's the phrase now , reflecting upon holder and clinton's pardon of marc rich.

stupid democrats do not see the sickening, horrible irony of this,that is, forgiving of this tax liar/cheater/thief, when the natural propensity of the left is to tax,tax, tax.of course geithner, rangel, et al. these are the bad guys

Posted by: fshaffer | October 21, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

i just get so tired of being hounded and haunted by the irs , on me, on me, on me; to insure that i pay 'my fair share'. then, large numbers of these really bad folks these life's interlopers, don't pay their due. do as i say , not as i get over. and boy, can they ever.

the dems are a very crooked bunch, charlatans, below bad.

Posted by: fshaffer | October 21, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Holder is a corrupt imbecile.

Posted by: birvin9999 | October 21, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

An F in calculus.

Hmmm... a white guy cannot even have his application looked at by admissions at columbia law with such a grade.

I know this for a fact.

Posted by: docwhocuts

*********************************************

I have to agree. Going back further, how does someone get selected as "intellectually gifted" who cannot pass a (presumably) introductory course in Calculus? Do you suppose that there was any kind of affirmative action involved?

Posted by: hisroc | October 21, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

We are not a nation of inventors or innovators we have become a nation of traders and middleman.

We don't want students to excel in Math and Science we want them to study literature, history ....


You know why all these politicians and CEOs are all goofed up.

I will contact Glen Beck to cry for this.

Posted by: VoterfromIL | October 21, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Well if G.W. Bush can get a free pass at Andover, Yale, Harvard and the Vietnam War, I don't see what the big deal is about an F in Calculus. Don't get me started in affirmative action for rich, well connected White boys!! I can guarantee you that Eric Holder could run rings around any of the Bush boys intellectually and in terms of character.

Posted by: PepperDr | October 21, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Well if G.W. Bush can get a free pass at Andover, Yale, Harvard and the Vietnam War, I don't see what the big deal is about an F in Calculus. Don't get me started in affirmative action for rich, well connected White boys!! I can guarantee you that Eric Holder could run rings around any of the Bush boys intellectually and in terms of character.

==========================================

PepperDr, you're too stupid to be guaranteeing anything. Bush never got an "F". Only stupid people get "F"'s and that would be affirmative action poster boy Holder. Where are obozo grades and why has obozo spent close to a million dollars keeping them suppressed?

Doctor Pepper......sniff yourself and sneeze......more like soda jerk.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | October 21, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Calculus is higher order thinking, in a mathematical way.

The LSATs, law school admission tests, have, or once did, a lot of math on them.

He may have bombed the math portion of the LSATs, but did well in the other parts.

Posted by: Chatelaine | October 21, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Courses every student should take in college:
-- Economics, particularly natural resource and environmental economics
-- World views and environmental values / human ecology
Every student needs to take these so we don’t have a new generation of neocons repeating the mistakes made during the last quarter century.

Posted by: SuzanneVesely | October 21, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Courses every college student should take:
-- Economics, particularly natural resource and environmental economics
-- World views and environmental values / human ecology
Every student needs to take these so we don’t have a new generation of neocons repeating the mistakes made during the last quarter century.

Posted by: SuzanneVesely | October 21, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Not good enough.

Open up Obama secrets (illegal for a Public Official), and look at his real school history.

Go for the bigger fish to vet.
Common, you will be very rich and remembered.

Posted by: dottydo | October 21, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Courses every student should take in college:
-- Economics, particularly natural resource and environmental economics
-- World views and environmental values / human ecology
Every student needs to take these so we don’t have a new generation of neocons repeating the mistakes made during the last quarter century.

Posted by: SuzanneVesely | October 21, 2009 8:46 PM

******************************************

Courses every student should take in college:

--Economics, particular Macro-Economics so that they understand that capital industry produces wealth, not government.

--History, particularly Western Civilization, so that they understand the natural tendencies of societies without resources to arm and attack those with resources.

--Political Science, particularly American Civics, so that they understand that The People are the foundation of a democratic republic, not the professional politician class and its sycophant special interests groups.

Every student needs to take these so we don’t have a new generation of one-worlder liberals repeating the mistakes made during the last quarter century.

Posted by: hisroc | October 21, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Valerie,

you still have to answer for Eric Holder.

Posted by: bethesda3 | October 22, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

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