New Obama-named A.G. has Barbados connection. Small world...!
posted on Sunday, November 23, 2008 12:48 PM
Proud mum: He will be a great AG
Sunday Sun, Barbados
Published on: 11/23/08.
Holder family: Sons Eric (left) and William Holder (standing) with parents Miriam and Eric Sr.
by TONY BEST
"VERY PROUD. As a mother you would know how proud I was."
Miriam Holder, a Bajan New Yorker in East Elmhurst, was reflecting in Queens on her feelings when she first received word her 57-year-old son Eric was poised to make history as the first black attorney-general of the United States."
"I am sure he is going to do a very good job, once he has been confirmed by the Senate," added the widow, whose Bajan husband Eric Holder Sr died almost a dozen years ago in New York but whose ashes were scattered in his birthplace just last year.
"Oh, his father, were he here would have been very proud of him," added the woman now in her 80s.
"His sons were the lights of his life. I am sure he would have been extremely happy to see him move into this position, knowing he would do a very good job at it. Our son Eric is a well grounded person, fair in all that he does, will sit and listen and he makes decisions based on fairness. He has always been a person mature beyond his years."
That's not simply the assessment of a proud mother. Such sentiments were echoed both by critics and supporters alike in the days immediately after it became known that President Elect Barack Obama intended to nominate the former Washington DC Superior Court judge; a man who was the top federal prosecutor in the nation's capital, who went to become the country's deputy attorney-general and acted for about two weeks in the top job at the turn of the 21st century.
For instance, the Washington Post, one of America's most influential papers, in an editorial painted a picture of him as one who would "bring years of experience and top-notch credentials" to the job.
"The predominant features of his record are independence, integrity and effectiveness."
His mother traces the origins of those characteristics to his upbringing, his life growing up in Queens.
"He grew up, I guess you could say, in a West Indian home, and education was quite important," she said. "They knew they had to perform the way we wanted them to. Perhaps, I was a bit harder than I should have been. Education is always important.
"As Barbadians, you know that education has always been at the top of the list of their priorities, and that was the same in our home."
Religion was another key factor in their sons' moulding, worshipping at the Episcopal Church, a few blocks from their home in Queens. The two sons served as acolytes, attended Sunday School and were active in the church's youth group.
"The church was always very important to us," Ms Holder recalled.
In the home, the emphasis too was on the family and when it came time to sit around the table for a meal, typical West Indian dishes were on the menu.
"I did peas and rice, the typical West Indian dishes," she recalled. "I didn't do too well with cou-cou. I like it very much and my mother used to make it on Fridays and my sister and I weren't too happy with it.
"But on my first trip to Barbados, I had cou-cou and I wrote to mother and said, 'Guess what I am having and enjoying it'? An aunt on one of her trips to Barbados brought back a cou-cou stick for me but somehow or the other I just couldn't get it together." Did she follow the Bajan tradition of yesteryear of using the cou-cou stick on children's rear-ends to discipline Eric or his brother, William?
"Oh, no I didn't," she said with a hearty laugh.
As for Eric's sibling, he is a retired New York Port Authority police lieutenant who is now a successful businessman operating six McDonald's restaurant franchises.
"He is very enterprising; plays a lot of golf," she explained. "He lives not far away from where I live and I often spend Fridays at his home."
Ms Holder, who with her husband once owned a condominium in St Michael, which they sold two years ago, speaks fondly about Barbados, much like her son, "who is proud of his Barbadian heritage", said his mother.
"He really enjoyed the island, especially the Hilton Hotel, whenever he visited the island" in recent years, she said. "In some of his speeches, whenever he talks about the island, he says 'the jewel of the Caribbean' Barbados."
As she looks forward to the day when her son is sworn in as the attorney-general, she is confident about two things.
"The first is that he will be confirmed" by the Senate and secondly, "he will do an outstanding job as the first black attorney-general."
Reef Beauty Barbados
Credit: Tamara Bokuchava