Holder: Discrimination persists

As part of events marking the anniversary of the admission of the first black student to University of Mississippi, Attorney General Eric Holder made a speech on campus, Thursday. Holder says because of persisting discrimination, federal pre-approval of changes to states' voting laws is still necessary.

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Thursday. The nation's first black attorney general says preserving civil rights remains a U.S. Justice Department priority.

Attorney General Eric Holder says U.S. laws requiring the Justice Department or a federal court to pre-approve changes to voting laws in states with a history of racial bias are still needed.

Speaking at the University of Mississippi, Holder said Thursday night he wished such pre-approval was no longer necessary. But he said that discrimination is not dead, pointing to a recent federal court decision that concluded Texas lawmakers had unfairly drawn legislative districts to exclude minorities.

Holder called federal preclearance of voting laws in the mostly southern states "a vital part of our enforcement action."

Holder's 18-minute speech was among Ole Miss events marking the 50th anniversary of the admission of James Meredith as its first black student. U.S. marshals battled rioters in 1961 so Meredith could attend classes.

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