"You are about to embark on your legal careers in an hour of particular consequence, at a crossroads in history," Holder said.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about justice and national security in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, giving anecdotes of his own experiences, hoping to empower the more than 400 graduates of the 2013 class of Berkeley Law and people who came to see him at the Greek Theatre.
"It's an honor that he would choose to speak at our Law School, among others," Berkeley Law student Steve Erkel said. "I mean, he's a highly sought-after candidate, and it's just really a tremendous honor that he chose Boalt."
As he regaled Berkeley Law's 101st graduating class, the attorney general made a little time for light-hearted humor.
"That whole, you know, best looking attorney general thing is starting to get on my nerves," Holder said laughingly.
But all joking aside, the attorney general's appearance wasn't without controversy.
The group "World Can't Wait" was there to denounce the actions of Holder and Berkeley Law professor John Yoo.
"I'm here to protest U.S. policies of torture and indefinite detention, the situation in Guantanamo," protester Henry Norr said.
"I think it's disrespectful to protest a graduation, personally, but they're entitled to their opinion," said Berkeley Law student Kevin Kraft.
But as thousands focused instead on the graduates, so too, did Holder.
"We are counting on this Class of 2013 to make more fair and more just a world that now looks to you for the leadership that you are uniquely qualified to share," Holder said. "Congratulations and God speed."
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak will be the keynote speaker for the campus-wide ceremony next Saturday, while political science graduates will get a keynote address from Governor Jerry Brown on May 20.