In a speech last year during Black History Month, Holder declared the U.S. was a nation of cowards when it came to dealing with the race issue. That remark brought a rebuke from President Barack Obama.
Yet on Sunday at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. pastored, Holder made a brief address that was more vague than anything. Holder told the congregation that each individual had a responsibility to improve the world, but he didn't say how that should happen.
A 1994 gun-control law outlawed assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. Once the law expired after 10 years, the Republican-controlled Congress did not reinstate the bans.
Democratic leadership hasn't pushed for the bans either. Voters punished the party following the enactment of the 1994 law, which helped Republicans, led by Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich, take control of the House of Representatives.
Unlike Holder, Rev. Raphael Warnock, Ebenezer's senior pastor, touched on political and social themes when he spoke. He said the country would suffer if educators, parents and politicians don't stop the flood of high school dropouts among black youth, which he implied threatens to recreate the permanent underclass that existed under segregation.
"There is no way you can have young African-American men dropping out of high school at 60 to 70 percent and America to have a future," Warnock said. "Don't dare give up on our children. Don't dare give up on America."
The reverend also spoke out against religious bigotry as a threat to a nation growing more diverse. He condemned Christians who supported bigotry under the guise of religion.
"We should stand against the efforts of of those who would speak the name of Jesus in acts of bigotry," Warnock said. "If you burn the Koran today, you will burn the cross on my yard tomorrow."