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Herman Holloway Sr.
*On this date in 1922, Herman M. Holloway, Sr. was born. He was a Black politician and community activist.
The son of William and Hennie Holloway, young Holloway grew up in Wilmington, attending parochial and public schools. As an athlete, he excelled in basketball and football at the all-Black Howard High School, the only Black secondary school in Delaware at the time. Following graduation from high school, he attended Hampton Institute for one year.
Like many young men, Holloway embarked on many different jobs before settling on his chosen path. Holloway worked through several occupations because of his political savvy and ability to handle himself. He was a bar and grill operator, school district maintenance supervisor; Wilmington police officer; Boy Scout coordinator; and aide in the General Assembly. Unsatisfied with the several jobs he undertook, Holloway decided to try his hand at politics. At age 23, in 1945, Holloway was defeated for a seat on the Wilmington City Council.
In 1963, he was elected to serve the unexpired term of Paul Livingston in the Delaware House of Representatives. One year later, in 1964, Holloway became the first Black elected to Delaware's State Senate from the Second District of New Castle County. Since 1964, Holloway was returned to office at every election. (In 1996, Margaret Rose Henry became the first Black woman to be elected to Delaware's State Senate.)
Although elected to the Senate with the help of the Democratic Party, Senator Holloway established himself as an "independent" legislator. During his 29 years in the legislature, Holloway often went against his party on racial and civil rights issues and even supported Republicans for office. Although some of these actions placed him in what he called "hell-catching" positions, many observers understood that Holloway was an astute politician.
By 1988, he was the most tenured legislator in the Delaware Assembly. No other legislator elected in the nation (at any level of government) had more continuous service than Senator Herman Holloway, Sr. of Delaware. In the area of social legislation, Holloway had no peer. Over his 31 years as Delaware's legislator, Holloway served on numerous committees: Adult and Juvenile Corrections; Children, Youth, and Family; Joint Finance Committee; Labor and Industrial Relations; and Revenue and Taxation to list a few.
Holloway was the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, Social Services, and Aging for 16 years. He was a member of Delaware's Interstate Cooperative Commission, the Human Resource Task Force, and the Eastern Region of the National Legislator Conference. Senator Holloway's biggest victories were in the form of his socially progressive legislation. The Public Accommodations Act was passed in 1963, barring racial discrimination in public accommodations.
Delaware State College (now Delaware State University) awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Law degree in 1969. In 1972, the Georgetown Branch of Delaware Technical and Community College awarded him an Honorary Associates Degree in Applied Science. The Delaware Chapter of the National Caucus and Center for Black Aged honored him for Outstanding Service in 1990. Numerous other agencies have lauded Holloway for his contributions to making a difference in the lives of all Delawareans. Senator Holloway was also active in civic affairs.
He was a member of Mount Joy United Methodist Church; a Past Worshipful Master of Union Lodge #21 Prince Hall Masonic Order; a member of the Board of Managers of the Walnut Street YMCA; a member of the historic Monday Club, Inc. of Wilmington; and founder and President of the Citizens Political Issue League of Delaware. A strong family man, Holloway was married to the former Miss Ethel Johnson of Wilmington. The marriage produced five children--three daughters and two sons.
On March 14, 1994, Herman M. Holloway, Sr., died of lung cancer at 72. He will be remembered for his pivotal role in the state's passage of Civil Rights legislation and his efforts to bring Delaware's human service into the modern age. The State Health and Social Services Building on DuPont Highway has been named in his honor. A portrait of the Senator by Black artist, Simmie Knox, hangs in Legislative Hall in Dover. Herman Holloway, Sr., a Democrat, championed the poor and the oppressed. An effective orator, his skills of persuasion served him well. His legacy of leadership in social services for Delawareans is unparalleled.
Image: Simmie Knox