Black History Month Alumni Feature Q&A
Jimi Holden played on the Bison football team, studied electronic media in the communication department and worked with HU16, the University’s 24/7 television station, until he graduated from Harding in 2004. He played professional football in the Arena Football League for the Arkansas Twisters until 2008. He has worked in finance since 2012 and owns Holden Financial Group.
Was there an experience or mentor at Harding that helped with your professional transition as a black student?
I was blessed to have Bruce Pearson as my mentor during my time at Harding. He wasn’t a professor or coach, but he was a part of the Harding community. When you’re a college athlete, people tend to put you in a box, but Bruce was able to help me grow as an athlete as well as a businessman, friend, leader and mentor. We have a strong relationship to this day.
Who are your African American heroes, and what traits do they have in common?
One of my heroes is also a Harding alumnus — my younger brother, Rae Holden. He was the first Black faculty member and coach hired by the high school from which he graduated in Holland, Texas. Both of our parents graduated from a segregated high school. For them to see their son become a trailblazer means a lot to me and my family.
As we celebrate Black History Month, what are steps we can all take to further cultivate change and progress toward equality?
I think taking the time to listen is vital to equality. Listening allows us to understand where the true strength of our country is, which I believe is our diversity. There is no other country that’s made up the way America is. Your ethnic background could be from any other place in the world, and you could still be called an American. We may look different, but we all want the same things — “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Once we can see all of us as Americans and be willing to listen more than talk, then we can embrace equality.
How would you like to see the efforts and attention of Black History Month carried throughout the year?
Black history is not only American history; it’s also world history. I would like to see it taught as such. Education is so important for growth and understanding. Relegating it to one month is appreciated, but the contributions of Black people should be included in the standard history curriculum.
What traits that Jesus embodied do you think are crucial to achieving the goal of equality? Why?
Jesus was compassionate, loving, committed, peaceful, humble and a servant. I believe those are traits that require us to focus on the well-being of others. And being able to want what’s best for other people allows us to look at equality through the lens of what’s actually right and wrong, and not our own perception of it.