Attorney General Eric Holder
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

The mood was one of disappointment on the second day of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference when news hit that Attorney General Eric Holder was stepping down after six years in the position.

Little is yet known as to why Holder is stepping down, but several CBCF conference attendees expressed sadness for Holder’s departure, seeing him as a true advocate of causes that directly affect African Americans—from his talk on African-American students and the school-to-prison pipeline to his work on mandatory-sentencing laws and enforcing voting rights across the country.

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“I’m heartbroken,” said Cheryl Robinson, a CBCF attendee from Sterling, Va. “I’m wondering what’s going to happen to his work in Ferguson. Like President Obama, Holder has gotten flak for useless things. I believe it’s related to race and racism in this country.”

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) said it was too early to really understand why Holder was walking away from the attorney general position, but he said the resignation will be “definitely a blow to the Obama administration.”

“He’s been a real asset to this fight for people who didn’t necessarily get a fair chance in this justice system,” Payne said.

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Payne’s sentiments were shared by his cousin Eric Payne, who was attending the convention with his relative from New Jersey. “I’m disappointed. I think he’s a great attorney general, particularly for African Americans,” Eric Payne said. “He didn’t shy away from those moments.”

Kenneth Black, who was attending the conference in support of his son, who was appearing on a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education panel, praised Holder’s work.

“He did an excellent job; the resignation comes with disappointment, and for the community as a whole, he will be very hard to replace,” Black said.