Attorney General Eric Holder called on absentee black fathers yesterday to take an active role in their children’s lives, Newsday reported today.
Holder, a Queens native and the first black Attorney General, urged the 400 worshippers at the Memorial Presbyterian Church on Baldwin Turnpike in Queens, N.Y., to orchestrate a “spiritual awakening,” according to the New York newspaper. The Attorney General said a father’s involvement in a family can help combat poverty and crime in black neighborhoods, according to Newsday.
“Too many men in the black community have created children and left them to be raised by caring mothers. These women do a wonderful job, but we ask too much of them and too little of our men,” Holder told the congregation, which included members of his family, according to Newsday. “It should simply be unacceptable for a man to have a child and then not play an integral part in the raising and nurturing of the child.”
Holder’s comments hearken back to comedian Bill Cosby’s speech before the NAACP in 2004, in which he sparked a national debate by urging African-American fathers to take responsibility for their children. And on Father’s Day 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama gave a speech in which he said “too many fathers” are “missing from too many lives and too many homes.”
The nation’s top federal law enforcement official steered clear of domestic policy matters during his speech in the church, Newsday said. But, outside the church, more than 50 people protested his decision to try 9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspected terrorists in a New York City federal court, according to the newspaper.
Holder met with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and other officials earlier last week to discuss the upcoming trials.