At a time when severe limitation was placed on the Melanated population of this country. Jerome Heartwell Holland had the courage to follow his dreams. Born on January 9, 1916, in Auburn, New York. Holland would fall in love with football in high school and continued his journey at Cornell University.
In 1935, he became the first African American to play for the school’s football team. He was an all-American athlete at Cornell University for 2 consecutive years (1937,1938). However, his talents weren’t limited to the field. In 1939, after graduating, he entered Cornell graduate program and earned an M.A. in sociology. In 1941, he was hired by Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he taught sociology and physical education.
After receiving his Ph. D from the University of Pennsylvania he was named the president of Delaware State College (1953-1959). Subsequently, he also became the president of Hampton Institute which is now Hampton University, where he remained for a decade. In 1970, he was selected by then-president Richard Nixon to be the U.S. ambassador to Sweden, making Holland only the second African American assigned as an ambassador to a European nation.
Jerome Holland’s life and accomplishments are important to highlight because he didn’t limit himself to solely being an athlete. Every career aspiration that he had, he pursued. This is a significant lesson for the youth of today, the only limitation we have are the ones we place on ourselves.