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*Jesse Holland was born on this date in 1971. He is a Black journalist, author, television personality and educator.
Jesse James Holland Jr. is from Holly Springs, Mississippi, and is one of four siblings. His parents, Jesse James Holland and Yvonne Boga Holland were both public school teachers in Memphis, Tennessee and Mount Pleasant, Mississippi, respectively, as well as owners and operators of a family farm in Marshall and Benton counties in Mississippi.
He attended the University of Mississippi, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts with emphasis in journalism and English in 1994. While an undergraduate, Holland worked as a reporter for The Oxford Eagle and as a reporter, editor and finally editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian, the college newspaper at the University of Mississippi. He was only the second Black editor of that college's newspaper and co-wrote a comic strip for that newspaper called “Hippie and The Black Guy.”
Holland was a longtime Associated Press reporter joining them as an intern in 1994 in the Columbia, South Carolina bureau after stints as an intern at the Meredith Corporation, the Birmingham Post-Herald and The New York Times. He became a legal reporter for The Associated Press, covering the high-profile Susan Smith trial in Union, South Carolina for the news cooperative, earning him the Associated Press Managing Editors John L. Dougherty Excellence Award. He later became the statehouse reporter, covering the South Carolina government including Governors Carroll Campbell, David Beasley and Jim Hodges.
He transferred to the Albany, New York bureau in 1999, where he covered education, state government, Gov’s. George Pataki and Hillary Clinton's first U.S. Senate run. He worked as a Race & Ethnicity reporter for the Associated Press in Washington, D.C., where he has been stationed since 2000. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland in 2012. He is one of the few Washington, D.C. reporters who has been credentialed to cover all three major branches of government: he worked as a Congressional reporter in 2000 and 2001-05; a White House reporter from 2000-01 and a Supreme Court reporter from 2009-2014. He also served as National Labor Writer for the Associated Press from 2007-09. Jesse left the Associated Press in September 2019 to take a position as Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Residence at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.
Holland was named as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Ethics in Journalism at the University of Arkansas in 2016. He teaches creative nonfiction and multimedia narrative at Goucher College and has taught journalism ethics at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies and at New York University’s Washington D.C. campus. He left The Associated Press on book leave in 2005 to write his first book Black Men Built The Capitol: Discovering African American History In and Around Washington, D.C., which was published in 2007. His second book, The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in The White House was published in 2017 and was awarded a silver medal in U.S. history from the Independent Publishers Association.
Holland is also the author of the 2016 young adult book, Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Finn's Story and the 2017 novel, Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther? the first novel featuring Marvel Comics' first Black superhero, the Black Panther. The novel is an adaptation of Reginald Hudlin and John Romita's "Who Is The Black Panther?" arc in the Black Panther comic book, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2019 for Outstanding Literary Work - Fiction.