Holland, Jerome Heartwell

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Holland, Jerome Heartwell

January 6, 1916
January 13, 1985

The educator and diplomat Jerome Holland was born and raised in Auburn, New York, and in 1935 became the first African American to play football at Cornell University, where he was twice selected as an All American. Holland graduated with honors in 1939 and received a master's degree in sociology two years later. After teaching sociology and physical education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950. He served as president of Delaware State College in Dover, Delaware (19531959), and of Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia (19601970). Holland also authored a number of economic and sociological studies on African Americans, including "Black Opportunity" (1969), a treatise supporting the full integration of African Americans into the mainstream of the American economy.

In 1970 President Richard M. Nixon appointed Holland U.S. ambassador to Sweden, and he served until 1972. He was a board member of nine major United States companies, including the Chrysler Corporation, American Telephone and Telegraph, and General Foods, as well as a member of the board of directors of the National Urban League and the United Negro College Fund. In 1972 Holland became the first African American to sit on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange, a position he held until 1980. Holland was inducted into the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame in 1965, and in 1985 he posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions in education and public service.

See also National Urban League; United Negro College Fund


Ashe, Arthur R., Jr. A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete. New York: Warner, 1988.

Young, A. S. "Doc." Negro Firsts in Sports. Chicago: Johnson Publishing, 1963.

sasha thomas (1996)

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