U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told members of the Ferguson community Wednesday that he understands the racial tensions underlying the riots and protests.
“I am the attorney general of the United States, but I am also a black man,” he said in a speech to students at a branch of St. Louis Community College.
Mr. Holder recounted several instances of being stopped by police, including having his car searched on the New Jersey Turnpike.
“I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me,” he said.
He also said he was stopped by a police officer in Washington’s wealthy Georgetown neighborhood while on his way to see a movie.
“At the time that he stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor,” Mr. Holder said. “I wasn’t a kid. I was a federal prosecutor. I worked at the United States Department of Justice.”
Mr. Holder said the discussion about race in Ferguson had begun a “good dialogue,” but that a dialogue wasn’t enough.
“We need concrete action to change things in this country,” he said. “That’s what I have been trying to do.”
The attorney general called on the people of Ferguson to get involved in peacefully challenging intolerance and racism in the U.S.
“The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the attorney general of the United States,” Mr. Holder said. “This country is capable of change. But change doesn’t happen by itself.”