by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Most of what we see and hear in the media about Attorney General Eric Holder has primarily been of national importance. But an event infinitely more significant in his life took place on Saturday, September 25, when Attorney General Holder, along with his brother William (Billy Holder), paid tribute to their beloved mother, Miriam Y. Holder, who passed away quietly in the presence of her sons and family members at the sea shore of Martha’s Vineyard on August 13, 2010.
Though low profile in it’s scope — the papparazzi was not invited or involved — it was high intensity in its impact. Close lifelong friends and family turned out to celebrate the life of a lovely woman who successfully raised her children in the community of East Elmhurst, Queens, NY. She was the pillar of the community and the not so quiet storm credited with instilling in them a sense of quality, courage and purpose.
Each son is successful in his own right, making their mother extremely proud indeed. However, along their path to success, they never loss their ties to their community.
Miriam Rosalie Yearwood was born in Atlantic City, NJ in 1924, the daughter of William and Rosalie Harding Yearwood. She moved to Harlem and later to East Elmhurst after having met and married her husband, the love of her life, Barbados-born, Eric Holder (Sr.) in 1950. They were married for 48 years until his passing in 1998.
Miriam Holder was definitely no stranger to volunteering and community building, having been involved since childhood with programs in her Atlantic City community. While in high school she volunteered to help soldiers who were recovering from Second World War (WWII) by working with the USO. She also worked in the hospitals where many of the wounded were being treated.
A devoted mother, Ms. Holder focused on raising her sons throughout her life. The spirit of volunteerism and community building is reflected in the close ties that are still evident to this day. It’s also evident that her devotion and encouragement as a mother is what led to Eric’s entering a school for gifted and talented youth in the fourth grade.
While Eric Holder and his brother were infant/toddlers she volunteered in the schools they attended. Later, when they were older and more independent, she began working for the then Rector of Church of the Resurrection, Harold Louis Wright, serving as his secretary. She continued working with him throughout his career –from becoming the first African American Suffragan Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, through his leadership at The Cathedral of St. John The Divine until his death.
Ms Holder worked with diocese til her retirement. Upon her retirement she focused even more on volunteering with the Elmcor Senior Center and being involved in the ever expanding lives of her sons and their families.
Attorney General Holder, who presided over the repast after the memorial services, greeted and exchanged hugs, greetings and well wishes from friends and family members who had grown up with him all their lives. There was a profound sense of intimacy, affection and respect, and they walked up to (Ricky) Holder, expressing their condolences, or shared a story or remembrance about having grown up with his mother. While all were proud of his having become the Attorney General, they were even prouder of the fact that he has never forgotten or forsaken his home grown roots.
No doubt the Secret Service Security detail that was evident in the room were exposed to something they hadn’t seen for a long time in their tour of duty — an event where family, friends, love and closeness were the top priority of the day. As hug after hug was exchanged, with neighbors and relatives addressed the Attorney General as “Ricky” and his brother as “Billy”, it was clear that the heights to which he has risen has in no way diminished the soulful depths from which he has emerged. (“…If you can walk with kings nor lose the common touch…” IF by Rudyard Kipling)
The continuity is most likely part and parcel of what makes him one of the greatest Attorney Generals this nation has had to date.
The memorial services were presided over by Arch Deacon Bernard; Reverend Canon Haroldean Ashton delivered the Homily, and Rev. Pierre-Andre Duvert was the Rector. Ms. Holder is mourned and remembered by her friends, relatives and neighbors “for whom she cared a great deal, and who returned her affection in equal measure.”
Our condolences to Attorney General Eric Holder and brother William Holder, and all the members of the Yearwood/Holder family.
Stay Blessed &
bullet Columnist Gloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com